Client Information for Post-mastectomy Tattoos
Thank you so much for choosing me for this. Thank you for your email and photos, that helps me so much. I value being able to be a part of your story and this effort to take back control! Post mastectomy tattoos are close to my heart, and I’m excited to help. This place will give you information to help you along the process.
How long after surgery do I have to wait to get a post-mastectomy tattoo? We require at least one year after the last surgery. It’s important.
Why only black and grey? Why only botanical imagery?
We find floral work to be organic and tends to cover so very well. We use the flowers and leaves and branches to trick the eye away from the scars or discoloration. Color fades while black and grey holds up over time and feels classic.
Will I need a touch-up?
Depending on the complexity of the work, occasionally a second session is needed. We’d say 1 in 10 tattoos request the free touch-up. We can always darken your tattoo, but if it’s too dark… there’s nothing you can do. :) A touch-up is absolutely free and we can always make a tattoo look even better if need be!
Is there any more information on David?
There is! Here are a couple of articles that dive in: Chicago Tribune / Follow up article. And David has been exhibiting some of these post-mastectomy tattoos in museums. One was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, and he has an entire exhibit in Chicago at the International Museum of Surgical Science. Here’s a video, from the exhibit, of him speaking on the meaning behind the process and the importance of empathy : Empathy Video on Vimeo.
After reading your email, you’ve been selected for this incredible process.
I can't wait to sit with you and create your mastectomy tattoo.
My goal is to create something beautiful with you. Every mastectomy and/or reconstruction is completely different. The scarring is random for each person, so we take time together and tailor something elegant and floral to fit your body, shape, and your healing. I only tattoo in black and gray (it’s safer and elegant), and am limited to floral work. Botanical imagery is perfect and organic and fits all shapes and sized. Because of possible corrections or surgeries, flowers can be fixed or edited to always look stunning.
The process is incredible. I give you my day… all of it takes place in one day. From start to finish, we sit and talk. We assess what areas need work or coverage and personal preferences. It’s based on your needs. What you like and dislike… then I design it on the spot. You’ll see a photo of you and I’ll spend time seeing what would look best. You’ll even get 3-5 different options for you to choose from!
After you’ve selected your imagery, we put a stencil on your body to see how the tattoo will fit. It’s liberating. And you can see a version of how it’ll look on you. The creation and fitting usually takes from an hour and half to three hours. It’s important!
Finally, once you’ve approved, we tattoo!
* Occasionally, I'll have questions and might ask for an OR (Operation Report), and, if need be, communicate with your plastic surgeon. It's rare, but certainly useful as a precaution if I have concerns!
As we have a long queue of people waiting for appointments, a deposit is taken to secure the appointment day and time. The $500 deposit comes out of the total fee on the day of the appointment.
The price of the the day, the process, the design work and the tattooing:
A standard double mastectomy tattoo with reconstruction: $2800
A standard single mastectomy with reconstruction: $1900
“Standard” covers the majority of reconstruction sizes. If your reconstruction happens to be larger than the average, there can be an upcharge which will be communicated to you.
Mastectomies without reconstructions are usually a few hundred dollars less, but this is dependent upon the complexity of the design.
*Pricing alters, but you’ll always pay the amount you came in at, never more.
Beyond the breast
I’m completely open to ideas! If you want more than just breast coverage, that’s wonderful! Stretching the image onto the ribs, shoulder, and arm also results in lovely imagery that can completely shift a focal point. Just please understand it’ll take even more time, thereby resulting in more design work, more tattooing, and more money. If you’re considering a larger size, just let me know! If you decide later, that’s fine as well, we’ll just communicate about pricing if need be.
*Pay in advance?
Some of my clients ask to pay the entire fee in advance to get it out of the way. This makes the process incredibly streamlined and I appreciate the trust. Just shoot me an email and I can help.
Doing mastectomy tattoos is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It’s mentally and emotionally heavy in the best way possible. I pour myself into each project! Because of this, I take on 6-8 a month. Each person is hand picked from a queue of emails.
I have certain days set aside each month. I’ll correspond with you to see what works. Often the days are random and I realize most of my clients travel from all over the world, so I’ll do my best to coordinate, but often the dates sent are the best to work with. I do the booking a few times a year and load up six months worth in advance. This helps with traveling and organizing.
Appointments usually take place in the morning and can last anywhere from 5-9 hours. If you’re traveling in, I suggest you make a point to stay the night in Chicago… both the night before the appointment, and the night after. Even if the tattoo isn’t that painful, your body and mind tend to exhaust itself in effort to remain calm and then to heal. Rest is important!
You’re welcome to bring snacks and food as well. There’s a mini-refrigerator to store anything you’d like. We can also order food to the studio. Thankfully, there’s so many options for delivery, I’m sure we can find something you’ll like.
Every now and then I tattoo a family member or group of family members with a small version or highlight of the mastectomy tattoo. It’s such a fun process and way to show solidarity.
I’m open to this, just please understand I can’t do any other tattoos the day of the appointment. The day is long and important. You want me at 100% for each tattoo! If we schedule far enough in advance, sometimes I can do these the day after. Otherwise, we can schedule into the future and make it happen!
Pricing for these is based on my current hourly rate.
At your appointment, I’ll load you up with information about how to take care of your new tattoo. But before you come, there’s a healing balm I love: Doctor Roger’s RESTORE.
I don’t get anything from recommending this, I’ve just seen it work and I want the best for you. After using it and seeing the studies, this product is safe and sustainable. It also doesn’t contain petroleum like most products ( i.e. Aqua-Phor). You’ll apply a thin layer every day for the first few days.
They’ve even given us discount code for post mastectomy tattoo clients: Allen20
Enter Allen20 as a “Discount Code” to save 20% at checkout.
*This isn’t a necessity, but the healing is safer than the alternative (Aqua-Phor).
I’ll cover the tattoo with a simple barrier that will need to be replaced. But if you’re traveling and want something that’ll up to five days and is waterproof and bacteria-proof, I recommend bringing Tegaderm with you. Save a ton of money by getting these at Amazon: (Amazon link) It’s a sterile, transparent film dressing that stay put for a few days while you travel. If you get Tegaderm, please bring it with you to the appointment! I can put the bandages on you directly after we finish the tattoo.
Swimming and Exercise
A new tattoo is an open wound, so it’s best to not expose it to a higher chance of infection. Open water can, of course, contain various types of bacteria. Swimming pools and hot tubs can as well, or the concern can be chlorine. To be safe, we say no swimming for 4 weeks. As far as exercise goes, we say the same, but I’m aware that’s a long time to not work out. A lot of my clients use the Tegaderm Bandages while working out as to avoid sweating bacteria into the tattoo. I hope this helps!
What to know: Appointment Day
For many, this is an entirely new experience! For some, this is an addition to other tattoos you’ve received. Whatever the case, this will be a beautiful and unique experience. I’ve tried to synthesize information and questions that come up about what to know for your tattoo appointment!
Studio information, as well as Chicago details and traveling questions are all posted at the bottom of this page. Just follow the link to the Studio.
What do I wear?
Please be comfortable! You’ll be spending hours laying down on your back getting tattooed. Some people bring blankets, slippers, things to squeeze during pain, books, and extra clothing.
Can I bring family and/or friends?
YES! I encourage it. The studio is 2000 square feet and created with community and family in mind. There’s space and amenities. It’s your process and you can plan it however you’d like, so know that your loved ones are welcome! There’s Wifi, a living room area, a table for working/eating, your own restroom and way too many art books.
What methods of payment do you accept?
I accept cash and credit cards. If you prefer to pay another way (Paypal, wire transfer) just let me know and I’m sure we can figure something out.
Why can’t I see the tattoo design before hand?
Because the image is created with you! Without knowing how you feel about yourself and your body, it’s impossible to create a custom piece for you. The process is super inclusive and individualized.
Can I get anything in addition to flowers? (birds, wording, etc.)
I tend to only tattoo botanical imagery in this location. Because of possible revisions, shifting with time, and even reoccurrence - botanical imagery can be tweaked and altered very easily. Other, more legible images, have been very difficult to fix. I’m always open to listening, because every person has a unique story…
Should I email you more information about the flowers and look of the tattoo?
Because I tattoo so many people, loading me up with information can get overwhelming. You’re welcome to know the flowers you’d like to try and show me some floral imagery on the day of the appointment! But there’s no need beforehand. Just understand that often the scarring or discoloration will limit the type of flowers or coverage you may have envisioned in your head. I’ll do my best to show you why something would or wouldn’t work. I will say the best results often happen when we talk together about how you see yourself and I’m given some freedom.
Can you help me with travel or Chicago information?
Yes! There’s a studio page setup just for this… follow the link below all of this for the Studio Information.
If the appointment is long, will there be time to eat food?
Absolutely! At any point, we can break for snacks or a meal. There’s an incredible Taco restaurant next door, but we can also order delivery and accommodate all types of diets.
Any other tips or advice?
This is all random but… make sure you eat a good meal the morning before you get tattooed, please don’t drink much alcohol the night before, understand you’ll have to break from exercise and swimming for a couple of weeks, and ibuprofen is wonderful for inflammation. :)