Meet Michele Khoo, a tattooist with a unique mission. Rather than traditional ink, this 38-year-old specializes in restoring confidence to women with reconstructed breasts who have lost their nipples and areolas due to breast cancer. Her artistry involves 3D nipple tattoos, which utilize tattoo pigments to create lifelike representations of nipples and areolas on the skin despite their flat nature.
In 2019, Michele established COVERS, a paramedical aesthetics center where she works with patients facing various skin aesthetics challenges. “I see burn patients and patients who have scars from accidents,” Khoo explains. “However, the most common patients I encounter are women who have undergone breast removal surgeries due to breast cancer.”
Michele’s journey into paramedical tattooing began in 2015, fueled by a heartfelt reason. It was a year when her close friend, a woman in her late 20s, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following her diagnosis, she underwent a mastectomy, resulting in the loss of a breast.
The physical impact of breast cancer and its treatments can have profound psychological effects. Michele’s friend experienced a significant loss of confidence and self-esteem due to the changes in her appearance. She felt self-conscious despite her young age. Michele empathized with her friend’s struggle and embarked on a quest to find a way to restore her confidence.
“My friend’s experience was deeply distressing,” Michele reflects. “I wanted to find a solution to help women regain a sense of normalcy, particularly regarding their breasts.”
For Michele, it was crucial to address the emotional scars as well. She began researching options for women to have their breasts remade with nipples, recognizing that even breast reconstruction could not fully replace what was lost.
This quest led Michele to discover 3D nipple tattoos and the field of paramedical tattooing. In countries like Australia and the United States, many clinics, often run by doctors and paramedics, offer tattooing services aimed at recreating natural breast nipples. Michele saw that this was the answer her friend had sought and was determined to bring it to Singapore.
At the time, few practitioners in Singapore offered nipple tattooing services, which presented an obstacle for women seeking this solution. Michele recalls, “My friend and I found a tattoo parlor that offered nipple tattoos, but she had never had a tattoo before, and she felt uncomfortable about it.”
The tattoo parlor lacked the privacy and discretion required for such a sensitive procedure. “My friend was uncertain whether tattoos would work on her reconstructed breasts,” Michele explains, “and she was not willing to expose her chest in an environment that did not cater to her specific needs.”
Although her friend chose not to proceed with the tattooing, Michele’s fascination with the concept remained unwavering. She was determined to discover whether she could learn this art form and provide a comfortable and empathetic environment for women seeking nipple and areola restoration.
Stay tuned for part two of Michele Khoo’s inspiring journey as she delves into the world of 3D nipple tattoos and paramedical tattooing, transforming lives one tattoo at a time.