Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about the need for more research and better treatments for breast cancer, but it’s also a chance to acknowledge the struggles and triumphs of people living with the disease. Every day, brave men and women are fighting and surviving breast cancer.
For a lot of women, fighting cancer means undergoing a mastectomy—surgery in which the tissue in one or both breasts is entirely removed, including the nipple. After mastectomy, many doctors offer reconstruction and rudimentary nipple tattoos, but these days more and more women are seeking out professional tattoo artists to either create more realistic looking nipple tattoos or to transform their breasts and surgery scars into beautiful works of art.
That’s where artists like Amy Black come in.
Black, who’s been a tattoo artist for more than a decade, had her first mastectomy tattoo client in 2011. Since then, she’s done gorgeous tattoos for thousands of breast cancer survivors — she estimates that she does about 100-120 per year, currently — and even recently started the Pink Ink Fund that raises money to help women pay for their mastectomy tattoos, which can run anywhere from $250 to about $700.
When reconstruction complications become hurdles to feeling satisfied post mastectomy some patients turn to decorative tattoos to turn permanent scars into beautiful art. Pink Ink Fund founder Amy Black @amyblacktattoos did this cherry blossom spread to help her camouflage bilateral scars and asymmetry created by her left implant slipping. She was thrilled with the results! #PinkInkFund #mastectomy #postmastectomy #MastectomyTattoos #NippleTattoos #Mastectattoos #breastcancer #brca #cancersurvivor #cancerwarrior
Black tells Berry her biggest motivating factor in starting the fund was the simply to make sure no one is “denied the artwork they want to heal after cancer.”
“My first mastectomy tattoo client had to pay out of pocket, and I guessed there’d probably be more women out there who might want to get a mastectomy tattoo and their insurance might not cover it,” said Black. “Helping others is one of the most important facets of my life, and being able to use art to do it is a huge plus, as I’ve been passionate about art since a very young age. I enjoy helping people reclaim their bodies and feel confident and happy.”
Of course, Black isn’t the only artist who works with breast cancer survivors. The internet is full of stunning work by many dedicated tattoo artists. Here, 10 original and powerful mastectomy tattoos from Black and others like her.
This survivor chose not to have reconstruction done. Instead, she went to Amy Black to have an intricate grapevine tattooed across her scars to symbolize growth and renewal.
2. Blossoming flowers
Such an incredible day! I get chills thinking about the first time you looked in the mirror and didn't see scars! The love and joy from yesterday will stay with me forever. 🌸 This is for you Gia! I have never met anyone quite like you before. Thank you for showing me the power that tattoos can have! Here's to not letting cancer make the last mark! #pinkday #pinkdaysandiego #mplstattooartist #mastectomytattoo #floraltattoo #scartattoo #fightlikeagirl #breastcancer #cancersurvivor @pinkinkfund @breastcancer_awareness #breastcancertattoos
This gorgeous work was done by tattoo artist Emilie Robinson to cover a breast cancer survivor’s scars. As Emilie wrote on Instagram, “Here’s to not letting cancer make the last mark.”
3. A rising pegasus
Finished the decorative pheonix as part of this Breast Cancer Survivor's Mastectomy Tattoo! Pegasus in teal(her fav color) rising from pheonix flames with special quotes and tributes dancing around it all thanks Diane! Love doing these cant wait to do more!! 🔥👊🏻🎀❤️ #pheonix #pegasus #mastectomy #mastectomytattoo #mastectomia #mastectomie #breastcancer #breastcancersurvivor #brca #cancersurvivor #cancerwarrior #cancersucks #pinkinkfund #cancerawareness #doublemastectomy
This badass tattoo by Black features a teal pegasus (the survivor’s favorite color) rising from phoenix flames. On the right side, it reads, “True friends walk through the fire with you.”
4. Pretty blooms
Stunning bright pink flowers by artist Jamie Schene artfully cover this survivor’s reconstruction scars.
5. A butterfly garden
I had the honour and privilege of covering double mastectomy scars for this beautiful lady. I'm humbled to be part of her journey and to help in claiming her body for herself ❤️ #tattoo #tattoos #tattooed #tattooart #tattooshop #tattoosofinstagram #tattooistartmag #tattoooftheday #uktta #tattoojunkie #ink #inked #inkedmag #inkstagram #inkoftheday #picoftheday #instatattoo #instagood #instadaily #customtattoo #customdesign #breastcancer #mastectomytattoo #blackworktattoo #silverbackink #coverup #edelwalshtattoo #edenarttattoo
This unique piece by Edel Walsh featurs colorful butterflies against black and gray flowers. It helped a woman cover scars from a double mastectomy and reclaim her body in a beautiful way.
6. Growing vines
This stunning full-body mastectomy tattoo was done free hand by artists at Belly Button Tattoo.
7. A red mandela
This totally original piece featuring a red mandela, a heart, a bird, and a sewing needle was created for a survivor in Montreal by tattoo artist Jose Marinho.
Did this cool mastectomy scar cover up today🙂 I had a great time working on this. Challenging piece and very cool client🙂 #upperpeninsula #marquette #michigan #nmu #northernmichiganuniversity #yooper #906 #tattoo #tattooed #guyswithtattoos #girlswithtattoos #inklife #inked #tattoosofig #tattoosofinstagram #artist #tattoostudio #nofilter #fashion #beautiful #highqualityink #instagood #puremichigan #ladytattooers #michigantattooers #inkedmag #villainarts #create #breastcancer #lotus
These mastectomy scars were transformed into a colorful symbol of life and renewal by artist Kerri Shelafoe of Rendezvous Tattoo.
This breast cancer survivor asked Black for some “pretty poppies” to cover her mastectomy scars, and this delicate tattoo was the stunning result.
Artists Melora Coyle crafted this gorgeous floral tat, complete with an intricate clasp in the middle for one Colorado survivor.
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