Breast cancer: tattooing does not replace breast reconstruction

Can we get tattooed rather than rebuilding the breast after cancer? Dr. Jean-François Lemoine disentangles the true from the fake on tattoo after breast cancer by interviewing oncologist surgeon Rémy Salmon.

With 59,000 cases detected and 12,000 deaths recorded each year, breast cancer is both the most common and the most lethal in women. For many patients affected by the disease, the treatment of breast cancer is also, when a mastectomy takes place, an attack on their femininity.

Breast cancer survivors, deprived of one or both of their breasts, are increasingly turning to tattooing in order to reclaim their bodies and regain their femininity. But can a tattoo, aesthetic as it may be, replace breast reconstruction?

For Dr. Rémy Salmon, cancer surgeon and breast cancer specialist, tattooing can not be a substitute for breast reconstruction. Asked by Dr. Jean-François Lemoine, he recalls that a tattoo can not bring the same volume as a reconstruction. "If you simply tattoo, it will give a flat tattoo" that may "fade" over time.

Breast reconstruction via a prosthesis allows, unlike the only tattoo to restore the appearance and shape of the breast. Hence the predilection of reconstruction for many patients, with the establishment of a prosthesis or tissues (skin and muscles) under the skin.

What about the nipple? Like the areola, it can also be reconstructed from a piece of skin or nipple of the patient, explains Dr. Salmon. "There are different techniques that give volume," says the specialist. "Knowing that by rebuilding a nipple, it will give a volume but unfortunately not to make a sensitivity, which is a bit disappointing."

3D tattooing, a new technique full of promise

Dr. Salmon also discusses 3D tattooing as a technique for reconstructing the nipple and areola. This artistic technique from the United States, which is "like a trompe l'oeil", is complementary to breast reconstruction.

In France, only a salon opened by tattoo artist Alexia Cassar, proposes for the moment to recreate nipples and nipples as realistic as possible. "The main difference with the classic reconstruction tattoo or medical tattoo, is the pigments used.In the case of 3D tattoo reconstruction, we use the same pigments as those used in tattoo parlors.They are permanent pigments -sure and monitored - which, unlike the labile medical pigments used in the hospital, or pigments that serve as semi-permanent make-up institute, will not fade over time.It is therefore a definitive act that allows former patients to return to their lives, "says Alexia Cassar at Marie Claire.

For Dr. Salmon, this technique is effective if we do not want to go through a reconstruction of the nipple, often painful because of taking skin pieces to graft on the breast. "With the 3D tattoo, we are visually recreating the volumes," adds Alexia Cassar.

Video: Nipple Tattoos: A New Option for Breast Reconstruction (December 2019).