Battling breast cancer is a herculean task, as is recovery. Many patients want to feel confident and beautiful after their bouts, especially if they have had surgery to rid their bodies of the disease. Tattoo artist Carrie Pataky is helpful in making women embrace their second chance with greater assurance.
See full story and video: Tattoo Artist In New York Helps Breast Cancer Patients
Lohud.com posted a profile on the 44-year-old tattoo artist of Yonkers, New York, who has customers visiting her from as far as England to enlist her services. The professional artist tattoos nipples and areolas on breast cancer survivors, like Constance Rogers, one of her clients who came to her as a part of the final reconstructive touch-ups after breast cancer treatment and subsequent surgery. Pataky has helped more than 500 women in the last six years.
Pataky’s work is a complement to the full nipple reconstruction done as part of breast reconstruction surgery. Post-masectomy breasts look like “a blank canvas,” void of pigmentation that a natural areola and nipple have.
Her specialty is scarce in the tattoo artist community, as the areola tattoos are usually done by doctors or trained nurses. Unlike her peers, she believes in using her skills do more than create art. “I believe if we have a skill and a talent in putting ink on the skin, we should use it the best we can, for whatever we can,” she said. “Whether it’s putting a flower on you… or giving you areolas.”
Pataky started as an apprentice tattoo artists in 1991 and opened her own shop in Yonkers in 1998. She did occasional touch-up work on faded areola tattoos or corrected surgeon’s work. She took certification classes for medical tattooing after she did complete areola tattoos for several women in 2006.
Dr. Neal Goldberg, who has worked with Pataky, is an advocate for areola tattoos and nipple reconstruction. He has referred patients to Pataky for five years. “The psychological recovery of losing a gender-defining body part is a big deal,” he said. “There are a good amount of patients who don’t even want to bother going forward with nipple reconstruction, let alone the areola. I try to encourage it because I think it’s a very small step that makes a very big difference.”