Certainly, going through a traumatic event as serious as a mastectomy requires a bit more than going to the local tattoo shop for a tattoo. If you have been through chemo-therapy, then you are immunocompromised. Your body has just gone through an incredibly challenging experience. The tattoo shops are not monitored very well for cleanliness and safety issues... even when the local health department is involved*. (*Some counties are better than others...) Caveat Emptor...Let the buyer be aware.
Some tattoo artists and tattooers have a sour outlook for someone who has just had major surgery and is on various medication and possibly chemo to go get a tattoo from a medical person... They don't know what all has been involved emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually with what just happened to you. If the physician doesn't have the capability to do your post procedure tattoo s/he sometimes unknowingly tells the patient to go to a tattoo shop to get their pigment augmentation or scar concealment. Then, there are some surgeons who tattoo their patients. Some physicians have office staff who do it. Some sales reps do it. Bottom line... is it being done well and safely? Has the person had an internship or apprenticeship to do tattoos? What kind of pigment is used? Is the tattooer aware that s/he has to know about the tissue type? If your surgeon rebuilt your nipple, is the artist aware that s/he can cause damage to your surgery by breaking up the scar tissue with the tattoo needle?
There are actually many medical people who have apprenticed to tattoo. Our Clinic RN, for instance, has been doing medical and traditional tattoos for over 15 years. She is a specialist in this field and it is doubtful there is anyone more knowledgable of medial tattoo procedures. She knows that pigment for micro-pigmentation is non-toxic and non-carcinogenic. Many tattoo artists don't distinguish that because they do not know. They often use improper inks that are inappropriate and will possibly cause you more problems. The industry sees there is money to be made and really don't research what s/he is doing to your body. Our Clinic has partnered with one plastic surgeon group that specializes in rebuilding nipples. If the tattoo artist doesn't know what s/he is doing, then the surgery can be undone with dragging that tattoo needle over the area incorrectly. S/he can potentially break up the scar tissue that is holding your new nipple together.
Other important considerations is that the tattooer understands what tissue has been used for your reconstruction. Was the tissue from another part of your body used? Different tissue on your body takes ink differently. Tattoo artists may intrinsically know this, but don't understand why nor have the education as to why. Just as s/he knows you're on medication, but unaware of the experience as to what effects those chemicals have on your body. It also very important to understand the effects of the needles of the tattoo machine on the scar tissue you have from your surgery. Is the tattoo artist aware of how to prevent breaking down the scar tissue?
There may be some medical folks out there who have not been trained well, if at all, for tattooing correctly. There are plenty of tattooers who haven't apprenticed, or didn't bother to complete an apprenticeship or actually did have an apprenticeship. It is guaranteed, however, that there was no medical education involved in that apprenticeship. Look at tattoo procedures the artist has done... do you like the work? But, whoever is doing your tattoo for you, be sure they are clean and safe and knowledgeable about your procedure. Do they know what the pigment is that s/he is using on you? Ask him/her. Have him/her tell you what it is. If s/he doesn't have an answer, then don't give money to someone who is not knowledgable about what your body is going through and what is being put in your body. You come first. Not the tattoo artists.
-Gwynn "Wolf" Wolfstar, BSN,CEO Skin Holistic Dermagraphic Clinic, LLC. If you have questions about your tattoo procedure, call: (303) 440-6611