Invasive breast cancer strikes one in eight American women each year--that’s more than 230,000 women this year alone. Mastectomies - the surgical removal of the breast or a portion of the breast--can mean the difference between life and death for these women, but losing such an intimate part of the body is often devastating, and the surgical scars left behind may be an unsightly and jarring reminder of the beauty that was once there. Enter one of the oldest forms of body art in the world--the tattoo.


Tattoo art has come a long way from the thick, blue-black, muddy dagger-through-a-heart on the bicep favored by thugs and sailors of yesteryear. Today’s tattoos are often gorgeous, striking works of art, drawn with precision and delicacy in all the colors of the rainbow. People choose tattoos to illustrate or show their deepest feelings or beliefs about themselves and the world around them in words or images. Some choose depictions of favorite birds or other animals, others designs or tribal markings. Small or large, simple or complex, tattoos as a form of body art are a popular and established part of American culture and everyday life.


But what do tattoos have to do with breast cancer?


Today, many women choose to have beautiful, personally meaningful tattoos done to cover their mastectomy scars, either instead of reconstructive surgery or to enhance it. The tattoos depict beautiful flowers in soft, sweeping, flowing designs; animals or birds personally important to the individual; words, sayings, intricate designs and patterns, and even perfectly rendered, realistically colored nipples on breast reconstructions.


Tattoos give the women who choose them a sense of triumph and pride in overcoming invasive breast cancer and its aftermath. They show strength, resilience, and a sense of power over the unknown. What might have been stark and shocking becomes beautiful, full of hope for the future.


Are you one of these strong women? If you’ve had a tattoo done to cover your mastectomy scars, the respected health website Healthline would like very much to hear from you. Healthline is dedicated to making people all over the world healthier through the power of information. It offers objective, trustworthy, accurate, and wide-ranging information about a huge variety of diseases and conditions, including breast and other cancers. It also offers the latest in health news and smart, credible ways to be--and stay--healthier, both physically and mentally.


Healthline is looking for women who have mastectomy tattoos and who are willing to share photos of them, along with why they got them, for a website slideshow on the subject. The purpose? To inform, encourage, strengthen, and inspire other women all over the world who are facing or who have had mastectomies.

By Leslie Vandever

Mastectomy Tattoos Decorative

Photo Credit:


The process is simple: Just email a clear photo of your mastectomy tattoo to along with a short description of what the tattoo means to you. You can choose to have Healthline publish your name with your photo or stay anonymous--it’s completely up to you. Just tell them what you prefer in your email.

If you don’t have a mastectomy tattoo yourself, but you know someone who does, please pass this article and Healthline’s inquiry and email address along to them. Knowledge, camaraderie, and being a member of the larger breast cancer community is enlightening and empowering. Passing those qualities along to others is one of the best things you can do for your world.

Show Us Your Mastectomy Tattoos!


Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 30 years of

experience. She lives in Northern California.