By Dawn Brazell
It's hard to
get through life without scars,
whether it's physical or
medical tattoo artist, Renee
Maschinot, helps often carry both.
What she loves about her job is
she can make some of the scars
disappear or at least have less
impact, she said.
esthetician joined MUSC's staff in
July, commuting from Ft.
Lauderdale, Fla., where she owns a
salon, with her equipment that
includes a specially-made tattoo
machine complete with a pink
ribbon design. She comes up every
other month to provide areola and
3-D nipple tattoos for breast
"Dr. Schimpf is
staying on trend and he knew this
was an option and he wanted to
provide his patients with the best
possible result," she said of
plastic surgeon Dennis Schimpf,
M.D., who sought her out for the
job. "It really shows a lot about
MUSC that they want to provide
their patients with every option
Cynde Brown meets
with medical tattoo artist Renee
Maschinot at MUSC.
she appreciates the opportunity to
provide this service to cancer
survivors in a way that's
convenient for them. She's been in
the beauty industry for 28 years,
also dabbling in fine art doing
pottery and porcelain
"With that art background and
after I had my own eyebrows
tattooed, I thought I could have
done that and probably know color
theory better than she does."
She took the
plunge, doing a two-year
apprenticeship in 2004 with a
traditional tattoo artist to gain
the in-depth kind of experience
she wanted. When she started
researching the possibilities in
the field, she discovered the
specialty of medical tattoo
artists who do areola work.
"I thought that
is so up my alley. It's got that
whole medical appeal."
debated being a nurse when she was
younger, said she loves how her
job combines her love of art,
beauty and medicine. "There's that
creative side of me so it's come
full circle where I have a job
that encompasses the medical
aspect along with the creative
aspect. It is awesome that I can
do that. Every person that I do, I
still say, 'Wow, look what I did.'
Every person is different. Their
skin is different."
excited to see her clients'
reactions, getting varied
reactions from joy to tears. "What
they find amazing is that when you
create that nipple areola area
back, your eye goes to that color
and the scars sort of fade out.
It's amazing to them that they
don't focus on their scars as
much. Many of them are stunned
about the difference it makes."
Maschinot had this
tattoo tool specially designed
for her work. For more
information about her specialty,
cancer survivors refer to
themselves as having the Barbie
look on message boards. "Barbie
doesn't have nipples or areolas so
it makes them feel non-sexual. As
soon as you add the nipples and
areolas, you're complete and now
they become breasts."
who had the procedure done, said
she chose not to do nipple
reconstruction because the 3-D
nipple tattoo seemed a better
choice for her.
"They look like
an actual nipple – looking at it
straight on. Looking at it
sideways, it's just nice and
smooth. You don't have to worry
about what clothes you wear. When
I got that done, I felt like I was
complete. It was like everything
is back like it's supposed to be.
I'm good to go."
Maschinot hopes for in her work.
The 3-D nipple
option is for women who chose not
to have their nipple reconstructed
via tissue rearrangement, said
Maschinot. "There is no protrusion
so they don't have to wear a bra.
The 3-D is an illusion created
through shading technique that
creates the look of a nipple. Even
if patients have had nipple
reconstruction and feel they are
not symmetrical, the tattooing can
help even it out."
She loves the
challenge of matching color to
skin tone to create an invisible
repair, just like she used to do
with her porcelain repairs. "To
really do that, you have to see
color. Being able to see skin tone
and to know how to get the best
results is intuitive."
she likes it that MUSC is
empowering patients by giving them
a choice. Not all doctors let
women know the options that are
women's health, women need to be
proactive and really seek out
their options and know what is
available. The 3-D nipple
tattooing is an awesome option."
she's amazed by the results in
every procedure she does and feels
she's helping in the healing
process. She finds some women are
ashamed of their bodies and hide
from dressing in front of their
spouses. It makes her sad, she
said. "I hope that this changes
that for them. I found my true
calling in my life's work is to be
able to restore what time or
illness has taken away."