A new areola: Nipple tattoos after cancer

After Priscilla Filippelli, 49, was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had both her breasts removed and then reconstructed.

But one thing prevented her from closing the book on cancer: areola restoration.

“It was like looking at a face without features,” Filippelli,  from New Jersey,  said of her new breasts without nipples.

When women undergo breast reconstruction, aerola reconstruction is part of the process.

In Filippelli’s case, doctors first used a skin graft from her thigh to replace her areola, but her body rejected it.

It was then that her surgeon recommended getting a tattoo.

“I had no desire to get it done until I saw pictures,” Filippelli said. “It’s as close to natural as possible.”

She met with permanent cosmetician Melany Whitney, a Pratt-educated fine artist who paints permanent areolae onto cancer survivor’s breasts.

“Women are fighting for their lives to beat breast cancer,” said Whitney, who has offices in Manhattan, New Jersey and Florida. “But they are always reminded of it, every single day, by this mound of flesh that doesn’t look like it was supposed to.”

The procedure, which consists of two two-hour tattoo sessions, creates the “illusion of protrusion,” said Whitney. She uses shading and cosmetic inks to create the illusion of a three-dimensional nipple.

“As they look at what they used to have reformed, they are happy,” Whitney said.  “It’s finally the end of their journey — and they actually see that.”

Getting ‘inked’

Whitney  uses specially designed cosmetic inks that are more subdued and natural than ordinary tattoo inks. 

She also can use a topical anesthetic if the area is sensitive, so patients feel no pain.

“We talk about what they used to look like; but now, they can decide what they would like to look like,” Whitney said.

Most out-of-network insurance will cover the nipple tattoos, which can cost up to $3,000 without coverage.

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.

Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…