Reclaiming Confidence Through Medical Cosmetic Tattoos

Medical tattooing can be an important part in the healing process of wounds – physical and mental ones, Nicole Prance explains.

Nicole (pictured second from right in the photo above, alongside her team) is known as a pioneer in the Medical Tattooing arena, specialising in 3D Areola and top surgery nipple tattoo. As founder of Pro Cosmetic Tattoo in Brisbane, Nicole has many skills and qualifications under her belt, whilst most recently having trained with The Australian Institute of Intradermal MicroPigmentation Medical Cosmetic Tattoo to further update her skills and knowledge.

Nicole shares with us both her successful career journey and struggles of navigating an unregulated industry.

A highly unregulated industry

I started my journey by studying Art and Design before moving into special effects makeup for TV and Film. After seven years in the TV industry, I began to focus on Beauty Makeup in photography and weddings, which lead to an obsession of eyebrow makeovers.

In the background I was practising body tattooing and eventually blended the makeup experience and became a cosmetic tattooist. After five years, by chance I was working out of the Mater Private Hospital and was approached by a Plastic Surgeon to tattoo nipples. At the time I had no experience in this, so had to get to work to develop my signature soft edge areola technique. 

There are no formal qualifications required to be a medical tattooist, we are a very unregulated industry unfortunately. You are required to have an infection control certificate, which is great, but there is no body to certify your artistic skills.

I am mostly self taught and always learning and trying to improve. I have taken many trainings in different tattoo treatments over the years, aiming to update my skills at least once per year.

The challenges of medical tattooing

There are many challenges to medical tattooing, the main being the skin that we work on. Often in medical tattooing we face skin that is scarred, has been radiated or grafted. My clients can be on lots of medications, which affects the tattooing.

The success of a great tattoo often lies within the quality of the canvas (skin). In medical tattooing we are trying to place pigment into the hardest skins, with unpredictable outcomes. Matching colours and trying to make the nipples look as real as possible are things I work on daily.

It’s also often a highly emotional appointment, for both the client and artist, so not only does your craft have to be mastered but you must be a kind, considerate person with a good bedside manner.

We are also improving the appearance of scars by tattooing in skin coloured pigment. We can work on surgical, accidental and self harm scars- it’s a very rewarding service!

There are also tattoo options for stretchmarks, something most women have and feel insecure about. It’s great to be in an industry that can really boost a person’s confidence.

Since having a baby I now work part time and create about 5 nipples a week. These can be a combination of 3D Areola for breast cancer, male nipples for transgender reassignment surgery, areola darkening or enlargement for natural nipples and scar revision for breast reduction/lift surgery. 

Clients have a mix of reactions which range from excitement to relief. Most feel comfort from having the treatment and a new sense of confidence. For some it’s the beginning of a new journey and for others it’s an opportunity to close a chapter.

Tattooing restores in more ways than you could think and I’m so grateful that I get to be a part of making someone feel better about themselves.

Capturing The Power of Healing

Artists Kylie Harber created a mural for Nicole’s clinic, capturing her work in a beautiful wallpaper mural.

Kylie, how did your collaboration with Nicole come about?

Nicole was in the process of renovating her new shop in Clayfield and had advertised on a local artist platform, for the opportunity to paint on a wall in her reception area. She was inspired by a line drawing of a lady holding a flower over her breast, and wanted something similar.

I was blown away by Nicole’s story and the incredible work she does – I knew I wanted to work with her straight away, plus I thought she would love my line art style. I had drawn a series of art prints featuring line art ladies (to celebrate women’s empowerment) the year before.

It felt like a perfect match! Nicole told me it was my excitement and passion for the project that led her to choosing me. I was excited to see a large blank wall that would be perfect for one of my large wallpaper murals.

Nicole had wonderful ideas – women with tattoos, flowers, hearts, lips, lashes and brows, positive words and affirmations, as well as the iconic breast cancer ribbon. This gave me inspiration and direction but Nicole also gave me complete freedom to be creative.

Why was this a special job to you?

I feel very passionate about women empowering women, self love, inner strength and reclaiming confidence. I also believe women can be healed through art and transformed by the environment around them. It was a dream come true (and brought me tremendous joy) to create a beautiful space for Nicole and one that will empower women every day at Pro Cosmetic Tattoo.

This article originally appeared in SPA+CLINIC #94

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