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Tag Archives: health

Turning My Mastectomy Scars into Art

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I have always loved tattoos. Shortly after my 18th birthday, I walked into a tattoo shop filled with courage and a bit of cockiness. After studying the wall of images, I confidently pointed to a small cartoon devil named “hot stuff” and said, “Perfect!” Many people ask whether or I not have any regrets about my first tattoo, but, honesty, I don’t. 23 years later, I look at it and smile. It’s a part of my history, a personalized scar of sorts. Over the years, I have added other tattoos, so it’s no surprise to anyone that knows me that I decided to add one more. This one however, is the most meaningful piece of art I have ever added to my skin. It is a beautiful ending to a very difficult 6 years. Choosing to remove my healthy breasts because of my 87% chance of developing breast cancer is a decision I don’t regret for one minute. My BRCA gene mutation has forced me to make decisions that no woman should ever have to make.  By choosing this tattoo, it was an opportunity to turn my mastectomy into a work of art! After my mastectomy, I suffered complications with my reconstruction and endured an additional 4 surgeries. I was not interested in another operation to recreate nipples that would never look, feel or work like my real ones. That is when I knew that I was going to do things differently. My search for a tattoo artist was a ... Read More »

Things to Look For in a Reputable Tattoo Studio

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We have discussed this topic before . . . however, the stories of bad tattoo experiences still come in.  So, here are some things to look for before committing to an artist or his/her place of business. Getting the tattoo you want is really a test of time . . . Many tattoo enthusiasts spend months thinking about the concept of their tattoo, discussing options with different artists and friends, finally selecting an artist and providing the artist with time to sketch out a unique piece for each and every customer.  And then of course, the process of actually getting the tattoo, likely in multiple sessions. All of it TIME well spent! Avoid being another statistic and another story of “Tattoos Gone Wrong” by carefully evaluating the place and artist you wish to do the work for you. The Tattoo Artist Offers Samples of His Past Work Selecting a tattoo studio where the artist cannot produce samples of his past work is obviously a bad choice. An album of the work the artist has done on living skin should be provided. A true tattoo artist will proudly stock photos of his previous work on the walls of his studio and have an online portfolio. This should be more than enough for you to gauge how competent the artist thinks he is. This is one of the first things you should look for in a tattoo studio. Tip: Great portfolios don’t always equal great results.  Ask questions about the art, how long did ... Read More »

Breast Reconstruction Process: Carrie

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Each month we a feature the inspirational and transformative Stories of few post-mastectomy cancer survivors and the artists & ink that help change their lives. Please support these Warrior Women by sharing their stories with those you love! It’s all these women ask. And remember- schedule your exams, ladies! -TAM Warrior: Carrie Artist: Shane Wallin Shop: Garnet Tattoo Studio, San Diego, CA Here’s Carrie’s Story: Hello, My name is Carrie.  I am a 2 time cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with Hodgskin’s Lymphoma 25 years ago when I was 26 years old and did chemo and radiation to my chest wall. In 2013 cancer reared its ugly head again in the form of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma aka Breast Cancer. After 4 chemo treatments I endured a double mastectomy with reconstruction. The reconstruction process has several steps, my 1st set of implants were problematic with one implant actually flipping over so they needed to be replaced. The final process of reconstruction is the tattooing of the areola’s which was done in a hospital setting by the plastic surgeon. Give him credit for a try but the areola tattoo that he did was a flat flesh colored circle…no definition!!  I thought “this is it? after all that I have been through???” I was extremely disappointed in the results. In my desperation to feel complete I started to research 3D tattooing and I became hopeful. In my search process I saw the group (Personal Ink) on Facebook and in looking into what ... Read More »

Patty: “I didn’t want the scars to be all I saw”

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Each month we feature the inspirational and transformative Stories of few post-mastectomy cancer survivors and the artists & ink that help change their lives. Please support these Warrior Women by sharing their stories with those you love! And remember- Get your exams, ladies! -TAM Warrior: Patty Artist: Shane Wallin Shop: Garnet Tattoo Studio, San Diego, CA Here’s Patty’s Story: In 1991 my father was diagnosed with breast cancer.  That was a shock since we didn’t realize that men could get that particular form of the disease.  Over the next seven years he underwent a mastectomy and many rounds of chemo before passing away in 1998.  In 1997 my sister Robin was also diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and went through many rounds of both chemo and radiation as the disease metastasized.  Robin passed away in 2004. After speaking with her oncologist I decided to see some experts.  One genetic counselor and many doctors later I had a prophylactic double mastectomy and reconstruction.  My surgeons were fantastic and things went very well but after 2 1/2 years and two serious infections the implants had to be removed.  By 2014 I had undergone two more surgeries and received new implants. Every time I looked in the mirror I would have very mixed feelings.  I didn’t want the scars to be all I saw everyday but these were scars that I chose, and that I would choose again.  My father and sister didn’t have that choice. I started looking at ... Read More »

Tattoo Artists Help Fight Skin Cancer in Brazil

Tattoo Artists Help Fight Skin Cancer in Brazil

By Kevin Miller Tattoo artists in Brazil are being trained by doctors to look for signs of skin cancer, thanks to Sol de Janeiro. Sol de Janeiro is a sunscreen company, and had the brilliant idea of having artists attending training courses to look for early signs of skin cancer. This is simply brilliant. With skin cancer being the most common type of cancer in the world, this could help people quickly identify the early signs.   Read More »

How Tattoo Machines Could be Key to Treating Disfiguring Facial Sores and Even Curing Skin Cancer

Key West Lifts Ban On Tattoo Parlors

By Tom Blackwell Mention tattooing and health in the same sentence, and chances are the topic is one of the nasty infectious diseases — from HIV to Hep C — that can be transmitted by dirty needles. A new Canadian study, though, may be about to change that image, suggesting that tattooing equipment could actually be an effective new way to combat an array of skin conditions, penetrating deep enough to deliver drugs to the right cells, but not so far that the needle prods sensitive nerves. “It’s logical that it works…. But we were amazed” The just-published research found evidence that tattooing could greatly improve treatment for cutaneous leishmaniasis, a parasite that leaves millions of people worldwide with disfiguring, and often emotionally devastating, facial sores. It affects mainly developing countries, but even Canadian soldiers returning from Afghanistan have contracted the illness. The technology, though, could eventually have application in treating skin cancer, psoriasis and other ailments, speculates the scientist behind the project. “We were extremely excited, very surprised [at the success of the experiment],” said Anny Fortin, a biochemist who did the work at McGill University. “If you think about it, it’s logical that it works.… But we were amazed.” She cautioned that the initial study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, was conducted on mice, so there is no guarantee the results will translate into humans. The next step is further drug-tattooing work on pigs, whose skin is closer to that of people, and then to try ... Read More »

Assistance Through Creative Block

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By Melissa Fusco At one time or another in every artist’s life, including myself, we have all experienced some type of artist block. There are many levels of creative block, from just the annoyance of interrupted flow that is short-lived or even deeper resulting in depression, lack of self-worth, loss of self-esteem and unfortunately self-destruction. An artist block or otherwise known as “creative block” is the inability to access one’s flowing stream of inspiration and creativity. What was once an overflowing well of ideas may now feel like an endless drought. It can last for days, weeks, months or even years. A feeling of loss in self may arise, and with every forward gaze stands fear, fear of not creating a worthy piece because of all the emotional strain that has occurred…  Read More »

Melissa Fusco: Actively Sitting Takes Its Toll

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By Melissa Fusco The single best tool that artists have to work with is their own hands. Often I hear clients tell me that my hands must hurt from tattooing hours-on-end. In my experience my hands are the last to feel fatigue and if so, the first to recuperate. The hands are an amazing and complex tool that can withstand hours of repetitive work, their strength, stamina, flexibility and movement is incomparable and cannot be replicated… Read More »

Brandon Collins: Health and Wellness Tips For Tattooers


By Brandon Collins It’s fairly common knowledge that being a tattooer isn’t the healthiest of professions. For some of us, our days consist of smoking cigs, drinking, eating and sitting (and sadly more of the latter). Working 10-12 hour days with little to no breaks can do a number on, not only your physique, but your overall health and wellness. Luckily, with some dedication and a few sacrifices… it doesn’t have to be… Read More »

Health Issues With Tattooing (Mike Rubendall)


By Petri Aspvik Petri Aspvik: What type of physical problem have you encountered due to tattooing? Mike Rubendall: Before I was physically active and aware of what being in good health was, I had major back and neck pain. It seems to be a common problem amongst tattooers due to poor posture and long hours of tattooing throughout the years. Have you had to see a doctor, chiropractor, masseuse therapist, acupuncturist or anything similar because of problems or because you want to avoid them? I would regularly see a massage and physical therapist. They have been helpful for me for the most part. However, I feel maintaining a healthy diet and exercise is a more effective method to avoid any type of chronic pain caused by tattooing…  Read More »

Health Issues With Tattooing (Nick Baxter)


By Petri Aspvik Petri Aspvik:  What type of physical problems have you encountered due to tattooing? Nick Baxter: Obviously tattooing can put strain on your fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, shoulders, neck, spine and lower back. In broader terms, all of these body parts are connected, like a series of stops on a train. The physical action of sitting and extending your arms, making small, repetitive hand motions over long periods of time puts stress on the body that just goes down the continuous line of interconnected body parts. I deal with pain, strain, and discomfort in all of these areas on a regular basis…  Read More »

Health Issues With Tattooing (Jesse Smith)

Jesse Smith Tattoo Artist

By Petri Aspvik Petri Aspvik:  What type of physical problems have you encountered due to tattooing? Jesse Smith: I’ve definitely had a few issues with carpal tunnel here and there. As well as a few nerve issues in my shoulders and arms. I’ve also noticed that my hearing has suffered because of the constant buzzing over the years…  Read More »

Health Issues With Tattooing (Kari Barba)


By Petri Aspvik Petri Aspvik:  What type of physical problem have you encountered due to tattooing? Kari Barba: I have encountered back, neck and hand pain for sure. I think we all get that. Have you had to see a doctor, chiropractor, masseuse therapist, acupuncturist or anything similar because problems or because you want to avoid them?  Read More »

Health Issues With Tattooing (Mike Giant)


By Petri Aspvik Petri Aspvik: Did you encounter any type of physical problems when you were tattooing? Mike Giant: Yes, my neck, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers would always hurt after a long day of tattooing. It took its toll over the years. These days I can only tattoo once or twice a week because of the pain…  Read More »

Health Issues With Tattooing (Seth Ciferri)


By Petri Aspvik Petri Aspvik: What type of physical problems have you encountered do to tattooing? Seth Ciferri: A lot of it is from sitting all hunched over for so long… I developed this weird muscle mass in my mid back. It was there because I had such poor posture while working, due to a lack of core strength. It’s taken years of weight training, massage therapy, and chiropractic work to get it straightened out. Core strength is KEY in maintaining good posture while working. It will help ensure a long and comfortable career…  Read More »

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