Category Archives: Medical Tattoo

Permanent Enhancements – Spa Edition

Most readers to this website are familiar with the outward effects of breast cancer on our bodies, and the steps taken to restore our appearance through reconstruction including repigmentation to the areola/nipple. (see previous article) But since this issue is aimed at not only breast cancer but health and beauty in general, today let’s explore other applications of micro-pigmentation also known as: cosmetic tattooing, permanent make-up or intradermal pigmentation.

As we age our skin goes through many changes. Structurally we lose collagen and elastin that help to give our faces support. Our skin starts to become dry leaving our complexions more dull than glowing. Our hair, eyebrows and eyelashes begin to thin, our lips lose their fullness and their color lightens. In short, our faces start to fade out.

The beauty industry grows exponentially each year to meet the demands of a population wanting to age gracefully. Topical cosmetics to injectibles and finally surgery. Micropigmentation falls somewhere in between and works with all of these choices.

Intradermal cosmetics add definition, color and shape to our features. When applied to the base of our eyelashes the lash-line looks darker and fuller, the whites of our eyes look whiter and our iris’s dance with brightness. This eyeliner enhancement can be very conservatively applied just among the lashes themselves or much fuller simulating cosmetic eyeliner. And comes in all colors from natural browns, charcoal, and black to blue, teal and smoky plum. Different colors can bring out the best in our individual eye.

permanent eye liner enhancement


Here are two examples of eyeliner enhancements. The first photo is a more conservative enhancement in a softer tone while the second photo shows a more pronounced eyeliner. Both will fade over time and may require a ‘refresher’.

Sparse, poorly shaped eyebrows can be a result of over tweezing, illness such as cancer, Alopecia, poor thyroid production or age. Once the follicle is destroyed eyebrow hair growth is no longer possible. So we turn to cosmetic pencils and powders to replace what 2-heavier-linerwas lost. This takes valuable time each day to apply evenly and inevitably sometime during the day we often wipe one off. This frustration leads us to find a better solution! Micropigmentation to the brows is a perfect choice. This procedure simulates hair, or can be done as a soft powder fill. This procedure will last from 2-4 years approximately and must be ‘refreshed’ in order to maintain the color and realism. Each day you wake up with your beautiful brows perfectly in place and you are free to shower, swim, sweat and play confident your enhancement will remain in place.



Here is an example of an eyebrow enhancement simulating hairs.

As our lips thin out due to collagen loss we may find ourselves trying one of several types of fillers to add youthful plumpness but this does nothing for any color loss or definition to the Vermillion Border. Another option either to be done alone or in conjun5-before-lipction with fillers is permanent lip liner or full lip color. Again, this can be done with soft natural shades or more bright hues.

In this first photo the Cupids bow is barely noticeable, lips are pale and in need of definition. Afterwards, you only need lip gloss.

Permanent Enhancements can also be used to camouflage scars. If the scar left the tissue whiter than the surrounding skin, a blend of colors can be implanted to help the scar disappear. More examples of this to come……..6-after-lip-enhancement

When we look our best we feel better. Our confidence is stronger. This is the philosophy behind micropigmentation.

By: Ann Price

Are Breast Tattoos Safe?

Nipple Tattoos Help Breast Cancer Survivors Feel Like Women Again.” This was the headline of a July 2011 news article featuring The Beau Institute, which offers free nipple tattooing for breast cancer survivors.

Is this a good idea? Is it safe?

In May 2010, I published a post on the dangers of lead-based inks in tattoos. (See my featured interview with Telemundo on the subject in the video above.) The American Environmental Safety Institute (AESI) had found through research that the amount of ink needed for a medium-sized tattoo could contain between 1-23 micrograms of lead, more than the 0.5 microgram-per-day recommended limit.

I also noted that the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) stated that tattoo inks can contain aluminum, copper, iron, sulfur, barium, nickel, cobalt, chromium, and more. All of these heavy metals have been scientifically determined by the state of California to cause cancer. The Mayo Clinic also warns that tattoos can increase your risk of blood-borne diseases like HIV, hepatitis B, and tetanus.

So are the technicians who are granting breast cancer survivors taking these risks into account when they’re putting tattoos on breasts that have already been affected by cancer?

What are Breast Tattoos?

Many women today who go through a mastectomy can request nipple-sparing surgery, which gives a more natural appearance after reconstruction. Sometimes, however, it’s not recommended, as it leaves some breast tissue behind that may be susceptible to cancer. Women who have large tumors or complicated cancers may not be candidates for nipple-sparing options.

For women who are unable to save their nipples—or who are just tired of surgery and don’t want to face reconstruction—there is another option for real-looking breasts: nipple tattoos. Some tattoo artists are gaining reputations for creating real-looking nipples that fool even doctors. According to recent news articles, these tattoos can help women regain their confidence and feel better about the appearance of their breasts.

Lillie Shockney, for instance, a nurse at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Breast Center, went to see tattoo artist Vinnie Myers after she saw his work on one of her patients. When he finished with her tattoo, “he turned my chair so I could see what I looked like in the mirror, and I burst into tears because they truly look real,” she told the NY Daily News.

Are They Safe?

As to whether nipple tattoos are safe—particularly on breast cancer survivors—we just don’t know. So far, there is hardly any information on the safety of this particular procedure. Many medical specialists aren’t even aware of the option yet, but it is on the rise.

Dr. David Passeretti, a plastic surgeon who has performed breast reconstructions for eight years, says that tattoos are safe after breast reconstruction. Yet in 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called for higher standards on tattoos, as currently, the FDA treats them like cosmetics and does not review inks for safety.

“Because tattoo inks are injected intradermally,” the CDC stated, “CDC recommends that ink manufacturers be held to higher product safety standards, which should include production of sterile inks.”

Sterility is a concern, as in 2012, the FDA launched an investigation of inks connected to illnesses caused by the nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM). They traced the sicknesses back to a type of ink used to tattoo people in Washington, Iowa, and Colorado, and eventually recalled the implicated link. But this was long after several people had already suffered.

People can also experience reactions after being tattooed, including infection, allergic reactions, scarring, granulomas (knots or bumps around the tattoo area), and MRI complications (swelling or burning in the tattoo during an MRI test).

The FDA warns that some pigment from tattoos can migrate from the tattoo site to the body’s lymph nodes. Whether this may cause health complications we don’t know yet—the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) is doing further research.

Meanwhile, should survivors be taking the risk?

Potential Carcinogenic Activity of Inks “Unclear”

In an article published in the journal The Lancet Oncology in 2012, researchers wrote, “the potential local and systemic carcinogenic effects of tattoos and tattoo inks remain unclear.” The scientists reviewed studies on tattoos and cancer, and found 50 cases of skin cancer on tattoos—a small number, relatively.

So far, however, we have no studies directly connecting tattoos and cancer. The FDA is investigating how the body breaks down the tattoo ink as it fades over time. The agency says there are more than 50 different pigments in use for tattoos. Some are approved for topical use in cosmetics, but none are approved for injection into the skin.

Of concern as well are the new ingredients now being used to make some inks. In an effort to get away from the metals, manufacturers are now turning to plastic-based pigments also used in textiles, printing, and automobile paint, especially for intense reds and yellows. These may include phthalates and hydrocarbons that are potential carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Black inks can contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including benzoapyrene, a compound identified by the EPA as among the most potent and well-documented skin carcinogens.

“The short answer is we don’t know if the chemicals in tattoo inks represent a health hazard,” said Joseph Braun, an environmental epidemiologist at Harvard University.

Experts caution not to get tattoos over existing moles, as they can cause a bump or lesion resembling a type of skin cancer, that may eventually require treatment. Is it safe, however, to put a tattoo over a surgery site, such as after breast cancer treatment?

Bottom Line

Breast cancer can be a devastating experience, and there’s no doubt that learning how to adapt to the major body changes can be super challenging. Women who make efforts to take steps that make them feel more confident and attractive are to be heralded for their positive attitude and courage.

If you’re thinking about getting a nipple tattoo, however, please see my former post for help in making sure that your tattoo artist shop is as reputable and sterile as possible. Then think long and hard about your decision. Remember that the natural aging process may cause the tattoo to become distorted, and that it is likely to be difficult to change or alter. Make sure you’re okay with the risks, and realize that you’re body has been through a lot, and is likely still recovering. You need a strong immune system to fight off cancer—and tattoo inks may further challenge your system.

What do you think about nipple tattoos? Have you gotten one? Please share your experience.


Rheana Murray, “Tattoo artist creates 3D nipples for breast cancer survivors,” NY Daily News, February 21, 2013,

Karen Kaplan, “FDA and CDC warn that tattoo ink can be hazardous to your health,” Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2012,

Nicolus Kluger, Virve Koljonen, “Tattoos, inks, and cancer,” The Lancet Oncology, 13(4):e161-e168, April 2012,

Joyce Davis, “Reactions to tattoo ink prompt warnings, study,” Herald, March 16, 2013,

Damien Gayle, “Now tattoos give you cancer: U.S. regulator probes fears inks contain carcinogenic chemicals,” Mail Online, September 1, 2011,

By Britta Aragon

Are Breast Tattoos Safe

The Finishing Touch

I feel complete and normal once again!  Ann hears these words many times in her studio.

The wonderful boost you get when your reconstruction is finally completed.  The last step of the journey, the beauty and realism now restored.

After the diagnosis, the therapies and surgeries, the final stage of a woman’s (or man’s) reconstruction process is the micro-pigmentation or tattooing, the finishing touch to a blank breast mound.

If like most patients you are not a candidate for a “nipple sparing” mastectomy, and choose reconstruction to the breast(s), then you will be left with a new, but blank breast mound. At this point your Physician may offer you additional surgery to ‘graft’ a nipple bud.  Often patients do not want to go thru additional surgery or feel the unpredictable effects of a possible erect or flattened nipple is not worth the effort.

If this is the case, don’t worry, as you now have the opportunity to achieve the appearance of a 3-dimensional nipple without additional surgery.

Medical tattooing also called micro-pigmentation is the process of coloring the areola and nipple via tattooing.

At Permanent Enhancements Ann works one on one to individually customize a blend of colors for each person.  Color, shape and size are determined.  Whether Ann has a client with a uni-lateral, or double mastectomy, a nipple graft or no nipple protrusion, her clients leave her office feeling their breasts now appear back to normal. This has a huge psychological impact.

Ann blends pigments for each client’s skin tone and desires. Several colors are used for each areola/nipple procedure.  Shading, highlighting, washing down of pigments and stippling techniques all add to the realism of the final outcome.  The tattooing appears almost air-brushed when finished.

On the average one and a half to two hours is scheduled for an appointment.

Often times area scars can also be treated by camouflage. If the scar is lighter than the surrounding skin, flesh tones can be implanted helping the crisp white line to vanish into the background.

After your procedure, Ann can provide each client with a Health Insurance Claim Form with the necessary medical codes included, to be submitted to your insurance provider.

Ann is referred clients from several surgeons or hospital staff members. Ann has also received new doctor referrals after the doctor has seen their patients completed pigmentation. Astounded by the realism of her work, they now send their patients to Permanent Enhancements for completion to their reconstruction. Ann has been gaining notoriety with her artistic work.

Our goal is to make you feel pretty again!

For more information or to view examples of Ann’s work please visit her at: