RANCHO SANTA FE — When a woman loses one or two breasts due to cancer, if she chooses breast reconstruction, the journey may be a long one. The last portion of the reconstruction is the nipple, and for some women, they may decide not to have another surgery but instead do something quite novel.
And that’s where Vinnie Meyers walks through the door.
Meyers, who has been featured on CNN and other media outlets for his unique work, recently visited Rancho Santa Fe to help women on the West Coast receive their nipple areola tattooing.
Considered the best in 3-D nipple tattoos, Meyers also tattoos patients who decide to undergo the reconstruction.
For women, it’s a personal choice.
Based in Maryland, Meyers has helped women end their breast reconstruction journey all over the country, including, top surgery centers since 2002.
While majority of breast cancer survivors go see Meyers, he thought it was time to come see them.
And San Diego was his first stop.
“We have a large demand from the West Coast, and there are a lot of women who need the service and a lack of people doing it,” Meyers said. “The main goal was to come here because it can get so expensive for women paying for airfare, hotels, rental cars and everything.”
Meyers wanted to make sure to pick a special place to do the tattoos. And that’s why he chose Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Fe.
While numerous plastic surgeons would have opened their doors for Meyers, for him, it was about giving women the right atmosphere.
“The mission was to finish the journey for these ladies in as comfortable an environment as we could possibly have away from a doctor’s office,” Meyers said. He continued, “This area is absolutely fantastic.”
In fact, Meyers plans to return in six months to help more women.
On this visit, Meyers was in Rancho Santa Fe with a small support staff, including his wife, Robin.
Meyers tattooed 20 breast cancer survivors.
The women, ranging from 30 to 68 years old, traveled from southern and northern California and Nevada.
To date, Meyers has tattooed close to 7,500 breast reconstruction patients. Women from Australia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and beyond have covered miles to see Meyers.
It’s his passion to help women who have “fought the fight” which fuels him to do more.
“It only takes looking into a lady’s face after you’ve done this just one time, and you know, that you could do this forever,” he said.
Next month, Meyers is jetting to Australia and New Zealand to help 60 more women. And next year, he has plans to travel to Great Britain.
Meyers knows there is a growing trend for tattoo artists to do nipple areola tattooing. With that said, he wants women to do their “due diligence” in finding the most adept people.
“It can be dangerous to have someone who’s not experienced tattoo a reconstructed breast. It’s critical that whoever these ladies go to, whether it’s me or anyone else, that they do their research and make sure the tattoo artist knows what they’re doing,” Meyers said.
Breast cancer survivor, Julia Joslyn, from Hermosa Beach, met Meyers in Rancho Santa Fe for her bilateral tattoos.
“I heard about Vinnie through a lot of people. I’m part of the Young Survivors Coalition and was told he was the best,” she said.
Joslyn had her double mastectomy on July 9 — her birthday, which she called liberating.
And in January, underwent “twist and stitch” nipple reconstruction.
Following her tattoos with Meyers, she now has closure.
If she had to do it over again, Joslyn said, she may have considered 3-D nipple tattoos.
Dr. Glynn Bolitho, a board certified San Diego plastic and reconstruction surgeon, who is also the current Chief of Plastic Surgery at Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, has a former breast reconstruction patient who went to Meyers for 3-D nipple tattoos.
“I think Vinnie does bring a new dimension to nipple tattooing,” said Bolitho. “For patients who don’t undergo nipple reconstruction per se, it does provide certainly the appearance of a reconstructed nipple.”
Bolitho went on to say how it’s difficult to find individuals who perform high quality tattooing.
“We are very grateful and fortunate to have talented individuals like Vinnie fulfill this service to women here on the West Coast in addition to his native Maryland,” he said. Bolitho continued, “It’s important for women to utilize all the resources available to them and realize that they are not alone.”