This Spring, we connected Living Beauty Kim with Misti Barnes, certified Collagen Restoration Therapist, Micropigmentation Artist, and Phibrow Microblading Technician. Together, they began a journey to enhance Kim’s post mastectomy scars with areola pigmentation.
What is an areola pigmentation service?
MB: Areola Pigmentation is the placement of organic pigments – via a tattooing device – in the breast where the nipple/areola complex. The look as natural and real as possible, with proper shading that gives the appearance of a nipple/areola. It is relatively painless, and may require one touch-up four weeks after the initial procedure.
How do you feel this can influence a women’s inner confidence after cancer?
MB: Breast cancer can be a devastating illness that affects a woman in many ways. Often times, after treatment and surgery, clients may have scars, or a lack of color in the areola area, which leaves them feeling “incomplete.” After the treatments, my clients say they feel, “more feminine and whole looking.” It is so rewarding to be a part of a process that can give a woman the sense that she is the woman she was prior to the diagnosis.
Kim, how did Living Beauty help you connect with Misti?
KA: I discovered, to my dismay, that post mastectomy, and post reconstruction nipple tattooing, for breast cancer, was not covered through my insurance. Indeed, my insurance wanted me to show why areola pigmentation “was necessary” and to submit records of double mastectomy and reconstruction! In San Diego I got prices of $600-$800. Considering my medical fees already, nipple tattoos became less important although I felt aesthetically, I needed them. It is a shame that one has to go through these hoops, after having undergone such radical treatment in the first place.
So I posted in the Facebook Living Beauty page asking if anyone had information on how to get around this. Within a couple weeks, Ariana from Living Beauty called me to say that Misti had been in touch with Living Beauty to offer her services, as this was one of the many things she does, and she was willing to help in any way possible.
Misti, why did you decide to share this service with a Living Beauty? What makes this organization special to you?
MB: I wanted to be of service to others, and this seemed like a way to use my talents in a meaningful way. When I saw what The Foundation for Living Beauty was doing, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. There’s nothing better than feeling you have helped someone – in whatever small manner – feel great about themselves.
Kim, what was the process like with Misti? Did she make you feel comfortable, excited, empowered?
KA: Misti genuinely cares. She sincerely wants to do the best job possible. Given the permanent nature of tattooing, this is so important, because what if I wasn’t happy with, let’s say, the size of the areola, if they were, for example, too large, or too dark?
Misti has an incredible personality: She is easy to get on with and very open to discussing all my concerns. Because of how sensitive, in every way, this was, the fact that she reassured me, and that I felt I was in excellent hands, allowed me to feel comfortable baring my scars, and excited to know she was helping me achieve something that was previously unaffordable.
What does this process mean for you and your journey?
KA: Aesthetically, pre-tattooing, my scars were visibly the main focus. All I could see were my scars. The art and beauty of my new tattoos took away the focus on the scars and made me feel so complete. It was like I’d had eyes without pupils! Misti completed something that was disturbingly incomplete. One always carries the emotional and physical scars of breast cancer, and after reconstruction, I was “kinda” happy with my boobs, but they still looked weird. What Misti has done for me now is to complete my journey, and give me the best outcome possible. My scars will always be there, but behind perfect nipples, which make a world of difference!
Misty, what is your relationship like with your patients, woman to woman?
MB: I like to think of myself as a coach and a friend through this process, educating my clients, and cheering them on. They’ve been through a lot of trauma, and they need to feel cared for. Honestly, I’m more excited than my clients are, most of the time, because I know how great they’ll feel when they’re done, and that the rewards for doing this procedure are priceless.