WATCH | Carie Mike walked into Twilight Tattoo, took off her cowl neck sweater, and laid down on the black leather chair. She had done this once before, but today was her last time. Carie was getting nipples tattooed onto her recently reconstructed breasts.
Mike had a bilateral mastectomy and decided to do a full breast reconstruction -- 3D nipple and areola tattooing the last step in the process.
Breast cancer survivors
Shane Wallin tattooed Carie's new nipples. He hasn't always tattooed 3D nipples. In fact, 19 of his 23 years in practice were focused on standard tattoos.
That all changed when a breast cancer survivor with a double mastectomy walked through his doors requesting a tattoo that would be beautiful and cover her scars.
Post-mastectomy tattoos make up a large part of his work and he says he has completed hundreds.
His first post-mastectomy tattoo was in 2012 when a client requested a decorative lace bra tattoo to cover her scars. Wallin gladly took on the project.
From there, his post-mastectomy work blossomed as he began to receive more local attention. In 2014, a plastic surgeon who works with mastectomy patients approached him about nipple and areola tattooing. Again, Wallin was up for the challenge.
You can't really substitute experience and specializing and actually having a history in tattooing to be able to deliver the best result.
Doctor's offices often provide nipple tattooing, but use less permanent techniques, like vegetable dye, that fade quickly and require touch ups throughout the years. Wallin said because of this, people considering post-mastectomy tattoos should consider going to a professional.
As someone who doesn't have a family history of breast cancer, Mike emphasized the power of knowing your body and getting regular breast exams.