BATON ROUGE – A registered nurse saw a need and changed career paths to fill that void — Christin Dottolo studied to become a paramedical tattoo artist and now specializes in 3D nipple tattoos for breast cancer patients after their life-changing surgeries.
Dottolo has helped hundreds more women feel whole after their fight against breast cancer. Breast reconstructions are often the last step for breast cancer survivors. People travel all around the world to visit Dottolo in order to complete their journey.
Medical Ink, located on Siegen Lane in Baton Rouge, has a funky feel. The walls are covered with inspirational quotes and splatters of color, including black, gold, and hot pink. Dottolo claims she is inspired by her work with breast cancer survivors.
Dottolo stated that “I just love their face when it sees it.”
Her clients have had a lot. She sees them because she tattoos them. Dottolo continues an art form she discovered while caring for cancer patients at Woman’s Hospital.
“I was so used to being on the scary side of cancer—the surgery, the mastectomy—and it just sounded so great to be on the good side, the part where they’re all done. Dottolo stated, “It’s not the last thing you do.”
Although she loved being a nurse, she now provides patient care in a completely different setting.
“I feel like I have found my place. She said, “This is what I was meant for.”
Dottolo was trained in tattooing at a Tampa, Florida shop. She spent hours learning color gradients, shading, and other techniques. Because the texture of pig ears is similar to human skin, Dottolo would tattoo nipples after she had put her children to bed.
Medical Ink was created in 2016 as an alternative to nipple tats. It has been going strong since then. Her services have been visited by hundreds of women, some even from Georgia.
Dottolo explained that 3D areola tattoos make people feel whole and complete.
Kimberly Hawkins is a cancer survivor and one of Dottolo’s customers. Kimberly was diagnosed with breast carcinoma in 2020. She found out about Medical Ink through her surgeon, who performed the final part of her reconstruction.
Hawkins stated that she felt “so, just, excited”. “They do such good work, it looks real!”
Hawkins has just one tattoo, but it’s a very important one.
“For some people, the nipple that they tattoo on you is almost like it’s going for them to complete their journey. It’s almost like a completion of your journey. Hawkins stated, “That’s how it looks to me.”
Lauren Simpson, another nurse who was a part of Dottolo’s Women’s Hospital team, joined the train. Simpson said that training her hand was essential. She uses a wireless needle to do her work — a needle that can be swapped out for something smaller or larger, slowed or sped up, depending on the effect she’s looking for.
She described it as “the least painful tattoo you have ever had”
Simpson performed Hawkins’ 3D Areola Tattoo and said that the best thing about her job was connecting with the patient.
Simpson stated, “You meet someone who has faced cancer, faced something like cancer, and stared it down, and came out the other side.”
Instead of taking from these women, they are giving something back. It’s why Medical Ink exists — to help women accomplish this final stage in their breast cancer journey.
Dottolo explained, “They look into the mirror and they’re so proud and feel like their look is good, and I just LOVE that.” It is the end of an era. And the beginning for the rest of your lives.
The 3D areola nible is not covered by insurance, but is provided to patients at no cost.