4 Your Health

Radiation tattoo removal helps breast cancer patients move on with their lives

CREATED Oct. 4, 2011

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  • part of Breast Cancer Awareness week Video by tmj4.com

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MILWAUKEE - We hear about it often--tattoos that are no longer wanted. These tattoos are different. They're related to breast cancer treatment.

Renee Walters is a laser technician at the Laser Centers of Wisconsin, which is located in the Clinic of Cosmetic Surgery on Port Washington Road in Milwaukee. She gives breast cancer survivors a chance at a clean slate.

"I love it, it makes them feel better, builds self confidence, so that's the best part of the job," Walters says.

She removes radiation tattoos on former breast cancer patients. Many have tattoos on their chest and under their arms that oncologists give them to help deliver radiation to precise areas.

Wendy Hoffman was diagnosed when she was only 37. She recalls, "It's just one more reminder, you know, of everything that I had to go through."

The entire process only takes a few minutes. Dr. Mark Blake is the Medical Director at the center. He explains, "The laser works by targeting and burning off the ink if you will, and body uses natural immune system to carry away the burned up ink."

He adds, there's no real recovery time.

"Not any downtime associated with it--can come in on lunch break even and have it done, and be back to work that same day," Dr. Blake says.

Wendy's still debating whether to remove her radiation tattoos. "For me its kind of... it is a little bit of a battle scar."

She can also see the benefits of kissing the tattoos goodbye for good.

"To feel a little bit more like your old self I guess. One less thing on your body...one less scar to remind you of everything you've been through," she explains.

Dr. Blake says the cost varies, but it's usually around $100.

Radiation tattoo removal can take anywhere from 1-3 treatments, depending on the darkness of the ink.