“Areola Architect” Wants Breast Cancer Survivors to Feel Beautiful

by Katie Fustich

Did you know that according to the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998: “patients whose health plan covers mastectomies are entitled to full insurance coverage for post mastectomy reconstruction, including nipple micropigmentation.”

This is what “Areola Architect” Cathi Locati wants you to know. After 30 years working as a painter, Locati decided to start using her intensely anatomical, Michelangelo-inspired technique to provide breast-reconstruction patients with photorealistic areolas and nipples.

Locati gravitated toward the procedure out of frustration that, under current law, surgeons and nurses are allowed to perform nipple micropigmentation with no prior experience and no training. Though this is done with good intentions, the outcomes more often than not lead to what Locati describes as “discs of color” resembling “pepperoni.” Not to mention the lack of needling technique, which can be physically damaging to the already sensitive skin. Yikes! “So many elements of the areola/nipple tattoo involves shadow and light – that’s what realism is all about. And it’s also why, with all due respect and no offense implied, surgeons/nurses generally shouldn’t be doing tattooing,” says Locati.

While Locati acknowledges it is a very personal choice, she also notes that none of her clients have ever been anything less than thrilled with the final results. Locati shared one of many testimonials that keep her inspired on a daily basis: “Being my breast cancer was 5 years ago, I had accepted that my nipple was as good as it was going to get which I have reluctantly accepted. I am so very grateful to you and cannot express the words I feel right now. You have made me whole again; something I thought could never happen during my lifetime.”

Cathi Locati moves forward in her work with the goal “to spread the word and educate patients and surgeons alike on an artistic approach with proper technique for performing Areola and Nipple micropigmentation procedures. I want to establish quality standards so that great results are a given and not an accident.” She encourages the micropigmentation procedure to be an important part of the breast cancer discussion, and encourages those who know survivors to bring up this topic, as it is one which many can be nervous to confront. Ultimately, Locati’s message is one that promotes happiness, self-acceptance, and body love in all of its shapes, forms, and colors. 

Watch the video below to see Cathi’s process, as well as before and after images:

Thanks to the Hairpin

Image and video via Cathi Locati (1, 2)

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