October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and unfortunately, we all know too many people who have either battled or been faced with this disease. In honor of all those who have fought, been affected by or are still fighting, we are highlighting a topic that many of these women (and men) have faced as well - 3D areola pigmentation. Amy Kernahan, owner of Amy Kernahan Studios, is one of the most highly sought-after micropigmentation artists on the east coast. Known for her natural aesthetic and expertise in custom pigment mixing across brows, areola's and more, Amy has spent the last 12 years perfecting her techniques. Although 3D areola tattooing is not a necessity after a mastectomy, according to Amy, “When the process is finished, most women are elated and say they feel complete and like a woman again.” Much more below...
Your work is so important for a number of reasons, and deeply life changing on many different levels. As a veteran professional makeup artist, esthetician and small business owner, tell us a little bit more about your history in the business and how you got started in 3D areola pigmentation.
My career started as an aesthetician, as I have always had a love for skin care. I went on to add make up artistry in 2004 and permanent make up in 2005, adding to my list of services. Permanent make up is my true passion, and it wasn’t until 2010 that I unexpectedly began my with with 3D areola tattooing. A doctor that I was working with at the time, asked me if I could tattoo an areola for a patient of his. When I quickly said "no", as I was afraid that I would not be good at it, it's when he told me that “anything you can do will be better than no nipple” which helped me feel more confident, and when I agreed to tattoo the patient. This was the moment I I fell in love with 3D Areola tattooing - it was such an amazing feeling and a gift to be able to give her back what she had lost.
3D areola tattooing is performed by creating the illusion of protrusion, with highlighting and low lighting during the tattooing process. The treatment takes about two hours and in most cases is not painful, as most patients do not have feeling in the reconstructed area of the breast that I work on. If they do have sensation in the area, I do have strong numbing cream that typically takes away any pain. By law, most insurance companies are required to cover any expenses associated with breast cancer. We give our patients a receipt which they submit to their insurance for reimbursement.
Just do it! As the doctor I mentioned earlier once said to me, "having newly reconstructed breasts and surviving breast cancer, but not having nipples, is like having a brand new car with no wheels". Obviously some lighthearted humor, however, the confidence that is restored once the areola‘s are added after reconstruction, is remarkable.
My three favorite services are skin care, eyebrow tattooing and 3D areola tattooing. All three services are confidence building and so rewarding, especially when they all help to greatly improve the aesthetic.