New Penn Medicine Video Provides Incredible, Personal Look at Post-Mastectomy Nipple Tattoos

I’ve heard about hospitals that employ tattoo artists as part of their reconstructive teams for women who undergo mastectomy procedures, but until today, I’d never actually seen one of them in action. Last week, Penn Medicine released a super powerful video, in which one patient, named Emily, allows her nipple-tattoo session to be documented by a film crew. 

According to Ardmore-based, nipple reconstruction is performed a few months after the breast reconstruction surgery, when implants are put into place. The body is given at least three or four months to heal before the tattoo artist gets to work. Depending on where you get it done, you can either have the nipple shape rebuilt during breast reconstruction and then filled in with color later, or you can have a tattoo artist do a 3D tattoo that looks like the real deal, even though it’s completely flat.

Penn Medicine actually began offering nipple tattooing more than 15 years ago. Back then, physicians were the ones wielding the needles. I’m told that as many as 250 women receive nipple tattoos each year at Penn Medicine. And although most insurance companies won’t cover it — Medicare only covers nipple tattooing if it’s done by a physician, not a tattoo artist — Penn charges a very reasonable $350 for bilateral tattooing.

What struck me most after watching the video below was how crazy realistic the tattoos looked by the end. It’s also clear that patient Emily was happy with the results: “It’s a very nice way to end the journey and feel more like yourself,” she says.

Check out the video for yourself, below.

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