Little Vinnie’s Tattoos in Finksburg, Maryland offers the gamut of ?tattoo designs, but people come from all over the world for one special tattoo: the “Vinnie,” a special three-dimensional nipple tattoo by owner Vinnie Myers. His clients? Breast cancer survivors.
From the New York Times:
?Nobody really talks about the areola and nipple area, but it’s so important,? says Kimberly Winters, 44, a human resources benefits administrator from Wooster, Ohio, who underwent a mastectomy and reconstruction of her left breast two years ago. This spring Ms. Winters traveled nearly 400 miles to Finksburg seeking a realistic nipple tattoo from Mr. Myers.
Vinnie Myers has given more than 5,000 people new nipples. While skin grafts can be done to recreate the look of the original nipple, this procedure isn’t popular because many patients “don’t want to have another surgery and another scar,” according to Dr. Leo Keegan, an assistant clinical professor of surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Doctors and patients are more often now choosing a tattooed nipple. The procedure is usually done by a breast surgeon with minimal tattoo training. While these are generally effective, Vinnie Meyers is the Michelangelo?of these special tattoos. With a 3-D illusion, they’re incredibly realistic, right down to the Montgomery glands, the little bumps of the areola. From Vice:
?We’ve tricked doctors,? Vinnie’s jocose assistant Richie chimed in. ?There’s been ladies that have called us all giddy and giggly, ?You’ll never believe what happened!? they say. ?I went to my follow-up appointment with my surgeon and I disrobe and he’s looking through my chart and he’s looking at me real confused and he finally says, ?I think we made a mistake. This chart says you were operated on.?”
In the video I embedded in this article, Myers asks the woman “Are you married?” Her reply was heartbreaking:?”No…would you marry this?”?And she laughed sardonically.
How sad. How terribly, terribly sad that this woman’s entire self-worth and value as a woman seemed to be?wrapped up in not only her breasts, but the tips of her breasts. Tragic. ?A part of me wants to shake her and say “you’re alive, unlike so many others with breast cancer!” but I haven’t walked in her shoes, nor traveled this journey with her. Our culture and our society has done this to her and to all of us.
I won’t judge. I’ll celebrate with her — at the end of the procedure, she stood shirtless in front of the mirror and said with pride: “I am soooo wet-tshirting it!”
When she does, we’ll all be there in spirit cheering her on.
Myers charges $600 – $800 for nipple tattoos and the tattoos take about an hour to complete. The typical doctor’s fees for the same tattoos are “a couple thousand bucks,” Myers told Vice.?And oh, about that insurance coverage? Some insurance companies will reimburse patients for Myers’s work, but most won’t because he?is not a licensed health care provider.
You can read the entire story at the New York Times. For a candid interview with Myers, check out this Vice article. You can see before and after photos on Myers’s website. Watch the video below and let us know your thoughts at the Liberal America Facebook page.
Tiffany Willis is the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America. An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she has spent most of her career actively working with ?the least of these? and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics she discusses,?like her?Facebook page,?follow her on Twitter, or?connect with her via LinkedIn. She also has?a?grossly neglected personal blog?and a?literary quotes blog that is a labor of love. Find her somewhere and join the discussion.