Why This Nipple Tattoo Is So Important

World-famous tattoo artist Keith "Bang Bang" McCurdy has worked his ink magic on the likes of Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber. But according to a recent Instagram post, the most important tattoos he's ever done were the 3-D nipples he made for a woman who'd undergone a double mastectomy.

"In honor of breast cancer awareness month, id like to share the most important tattoo I've ever given someone," he wrote on Friday. "This woman, along with millions of other women who fight breast cancer every year should be recognized for their strength, and applauded for their courage. To all our wives, our mothers, sisters, daughters, our matriarchs, who are battling this right now — You are strong, you are beautiful. We love you. #breastcancer #staystrong #getchecked"

Tattoos are a common technique used to replace nipples removed during mastectomies. While some women opt to have a nipple reconstructed with flesh taken from elsewhere on their bodies, with tattoos added for color later, others simply choose to have the 3-D illusion created by a talented artist. Others decide to forgo the illusion entirely and get more elaborate designs to mark their survival.

We are smack in the middle of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and striking images like this one are a good reminder for everyone to get checked. According to the Centers for Disease Control, although the majority of the 200,000 new cases of breast cancer each year in the United States occur in women ages 50 and older, about 11% occur in women younger than 45.

There are differing opinions about when women begin annual mammograms, varying from age 40 to 50. Young women who may be at high risk for the disease should consult their doctors about earlier screening.
Read stories of stage IV cancer survivors from Refinery29 and #Cancerland.
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