Reclaiming Scars As Works Of Art

Alissa Waters in her shop.

Shannon Henry Kleiber (TTBOOK)

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Alissa Waters combined her interests in medicine and art to become a tattoo artist specializing in covering — and often beautifying — mastectomy scars for breast cancer survivors. From her studio Shade Medical and Creative Tattoo in Madison, Wisconsin, she creates 3D areola nipple tattoos, as well as custom artwork like flowers and vines. 

Working with Waters to create a tattoo is often a last step on a long and challenging road for many women through breast cancer surgery and reconstruction. But this is one part the patient chooses, and helps make happen. Waters says her favorite moment is when she watches each of her patients react to their new tattoo as they see it for the first time in a floor length mirror in her studio. 

"To the Best of Our Knowledge" producer Shannon Henry Kleiber talked with Waters as she demonstrated how she mixes colors and designs a tattoo.