HATTIESBURG, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Some breast cancer patients feel like they lose a part of themselves after undergoing surgery, but a local tattoo artist is helping women feel whole again.
Becky Olson of Hattiesburg is a tattoo artist, but she does not do traditional tattoos.
"I can do pretty much anything from vitiligo scaring to areolas to actually decreasing the size of a scar or making it completely disappear," Olson said.
Olson has been a tattoo artist for 12 years. She began paramedical tattooing six years ago, but two years ago she began helping breast cancer patients who lost their areola, or nipple, due to a mastectomy.
"I also do areola tattooing for breast cancer patients and I do a 3D image there which make you actually look as if you have a nipple," Olsen said.
Olson said it takes about an hour and a half to complete an areola tattoo. She said she tries her best to meet the client's wants and needs.
"I'll talk to them and try to figure out what colors they really desire," Olson said. "If their areola was darker than I try to use a darker color and if it is lighter we us a lighter color. Most women don't really care. They just want something there."
Olson is currently the only paramedical tattoo artist in the Pine Belt area. Her first breast cancer client, Dawn Gillis, said Olsen helps women feel whole again.
"For someone who doesn't have what Mother Nature gave you, you feel a little not whole," Gillis said. "Some women feel it more than others. I wouldn't wear certain types of clothing because of it."
Gillis was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. Since receiving her areola tattoos two years ago, she tries to spread awareness about the procedure through the Waiting for a Cure Foundation.
"You don't have to settle for nothing," Gillis said. "If there are other organizations out there that will help you cover the cost, by all means do it. You can feel good about yourself again. You can feel whole about yourself again."
Olson works at the Body Shop Ink in Hattiesburg. She provides a variety of services for scar removal and areola revision.
The Waiting for a Cure Foundation helps to financially support breast cancer patients interested in areola tattooing.