“With cosmetic tattoos, women all over Australia are recovering and trying to move on from the trauma and trial of breast cancer. Areola tattoos are helping cancer survivors feel whole again; helping them to achieve a look that is as close as possible to their pre-cancer appearance,” Australian Beauty Industry Awards 2020 Cosmetic Tattooist of the Year and founder of Distinctive Features, Georgie Westley says.
“Every month I am doing more and more areola tattoos for all of the incredibly fierce women who have kicked cancer to the curb. It is difficult to put into words how fulfilling and uplifting it is to be a part of a women’s journeys to feeling whole again,” Westley added.
With over 23 years of experience in the beauty industry, Westley has received numerous professional accreditations and is specialised as a Beauty Therapist, Makeup Artist, Cosmetic Tattooist, Laser Therapist, Tattoo Removalist, and Trainer Educator. She is regarded as an industry leader in cosmetic tattooing, as well as an expert trainer for up-and-coming beauty practitioners. In order to find out more about the procedure, we spoke to her about what you should know if you're considering it.
What does the process involve?
So usually I chat to the client about how they looked 'before' and how the colour should be according to their skin tone. I then have to map out the placement of the areola and nipple using a few different measuring tools, this can often be a bit tricky if they have had a nipple constructed as they are often not even in placement and size and sometimes only one side protrudes. once we have agreed on the best placement then I will start to create my stencil with some ink and slowly build my art from there to make the nipple as 3D and realistic as possible.
Is it painful?
It doesn't tend to hurt most clients as they have no feeling in that area after all of the surgeries and reconstructions anyway. I have had some people experience discomfort so i usually use some numbing cream 'just incase'. The odd thing some people experience is referred tingling or pain in other areas such as their collar bone or hip instead of the breast where I am tattooing.
Is the tattoo ink safe around the breasts?
Yes, it's totally safe. just like anywhere on the body. I use certified and registered pigments and inks all vegan and organic with no heavy metals.
How long does it take?
It depends if I'm doing a unilateral or bilateral client and also depends if they have mycg scarring and size imbalance. I usually allocate around 1.5 for one breast or 2.5 for two breasts. Sometimes it doesn't take as long but I like to leave enough time so we can chat and take our time if need be for tricky cases.
How real can it look?
I can make it look very real. So many people comment on my work on Instagram asking me if the skin really is 'totally flat because I can make the nipple look so 3D.
Do you have any stories to share?
I guess just the whole experience is touching. we all tend to cry once the client looks in the mirror for the first time. I'm often crying before they are to be honest because I just know how much what I'm doing is so life-changing.
I had a client go to a doctor once to show him her lump under her arm. He proceeded to tell her to use Magnoplasm on it as he thinks its an ingrown hair. She said can I just get a scan to check and he told her to 'not waste government money on something not necessary'. The next day she got a second opinion and within another few days, she was having surgery to remove her cancer. Moral of the story... go with your gut feeling EVERY TIME.