Tattooing a nipple onto a reconstructed breast may not seem cool, but well-known 3D nipple tattoo artist Vinnie Myers is as close to “rock star” as you can get in the cancer world. Sure, his portfolio once held pictures of “feathers, snakes and dragon sleeves,” but now it’s full of nipples. A woman once gushed with a sly smile during an interview about her reconstruction, “Vinnie Myers did my nipple tattoo. You know who Vinnie is, right?”
Tons of women do. Well, tons of women who have gone through breast reconstruction know Vinnie.
Tattooing so many women, he may have one of the largest databases of women who have had reconstruction. Myers, and his team of personally trained tattoo artists, has created a 3D nipple/areola tattoo. They are flat to the touch, but women are thrilled by the realistic restoration of their nipples’ shape and pigment. This 3D nipple tattoo artist uses a unique design and technique. The finished product looks remarkably like the real thing.
We Need to Talk
We should dig a little deeper into Vinnie Myers’ world, because if there’s one thing we can be sure of, any man willing to spend his entire day tattooing nipples on women is definitely a “rock star.” So, let’s have a word with this interesting artist, and find out…why nipples?
I’m Taking Charge: Did you find this cause or did this cause find you?
Vinnie Myers: I guess the cause found me. I was asked by a local plastic surgeon to help him with a few of his patients. He said something like “can you help me tattoo nipples on some of my patients?”. Of course I laughed at the request, not knowing what he was talking about. I said why don’t they have nipples? I had no idea having breast cancer meant you might not have your nipples anymore. So, I did what he asked, and realized that this is something that could really work, and it needs to be looked into a bit.
I had no idea the scope of what this project would become, or how deeply involved I would get. I guess it has taken over my life in a way, and I am embracing it. So I wasn’t looking for it, but these things seem to have a way of finding the people who should be involved, and I was one of them.
I’m Taking Charge: Besides you clients have you been touched by breast cancer in your life?
Vinnie Myers: My younger sister was diagnosed in spring of 2010. I had been tattooing nipples for about 8 years prior to her diagnosis, and had decided to stop because the volume of women I was seeing daily had increased to a level I was unable to control without hiring more staff, and expanding the office. I was looking to simplify my life at nearly 50 years old, not complicate things when I got the call from my sister telling me of the diagnosis. That was the turning point, the moment cancer came to my door in a different way and touched my life. It struck very close to home. My sister and I are very close, and only a year and a month apart in age. Now I only do nipple tattoos, and no other type of tattooing.
Vinnie’s Career is Busy and Fulfilling, Includes Daughter
I’m Taking Charge: Do you know how many women you’ve tattooed?
Vinnie Myers: By this summer I think I will have tattooed over 8000 women. I am doing like 1000-1200 per year and with my team also working now (my daughter Anna as well) we are doing 1600-1800 women per year. When I find more people that are qualified and willing I will train more in the way I do these tattoos, and we will help many more. I think with the number we are doing now it is still only 1% of the women that need this done, so I have a lot of work cut out for me. So much for making my life easier …haha… but I think this is exactly where I should be, and maybe even where I was meant to be.
I’m Taking Charge: To these women this is more than just doing a tattoo?
Vinnie Myers: I have found out that doing this very small tattoo is a really big thing. It has always amazed me how something as simple as a nipple tattoo can change lives, not just mine, but all involved, the spouses, the children, the medical staff, everyone. I hear so often how women just want to be able to take their shirt off with their young daughter in the room and not feel strange or have to explain why they don’t have nipples. Or undress at the gym without feeling strange. Just a quick glance by someone can make them feel very uncomfortable, and I can eliminate that for them. That is a very powerful thing to be able to do. Again so simple and yet so very important. So being able to do this service for women who have been battling this awful disease means the world to me, and I will do it for as long as I possibly can. It is amazing to be able to do this.
A 3D Nipple Tattoo Artist Hears Stories of Joy and Sadness
I’m Taking Charge: How has your contact with these women affected your life?
Vinnie Myers: This is a hard question to answer. In some ways it has taken away my creative artistic satisfaction a bit, but replaced it with a different satisfaction on a totally different level. Everything about how I operate my business has changed, the way I dress at work, the layout and design of my office, my daily routines, etc., but also my perspective on life itself. I sit in my office everyday and hear the stories, thousands of them, about the individual journey of each lady/man and how this disease has changed their lives, rarely for the better.
So the stories are very often not good, and yet very uplifting when I think about their strength and determination to beat it. There are often tears of joy tied together with tears of sadness, but for them the journey is over, and I was the last step in the battle. So I have the best job in the whole cancer world. I am not telling them they have cancer, not giving radiation or chemo, not cutting off their breasts. I am just doing a little tattoo on them that will completely change the way they feel about how they look, maybe hide some of the scars, and distract one’s eye from them.
Saying it has changed my life is not even touching the idea. It has completely rewritten my view of my life, and of life in general. At the least it has changed my perspective on the little things in life that used to worry me or make me upset, because I hear everyday of the problems these folks deal with, and my problems become insignificant in comparison.
A Nipple Tattoo for You?
Myers’ homebase is located in Finksburg, Maryland, but he does take his skills on the road. He could be coming to a city near you. Also, Myers “joined forces” with the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery in New Orleans, and tattoos women at the center several times a year. Need more information or want to schedule an appointment with this amazing 3D nipple tattoo artist? Try here on Vinnie Myers’ site.