Linda Engman: Tattoo Artist Restoring Confidence After Breast Cancer. Nipples as Symbols of Healing & Wholeness.

Tattoo artist Linda creates new nipples for women with cancer

Linda Engman is Region Skåne’s1 only tattoo artist and at the hospital in Malmö she recreates nipples for women who have had breast cancer. Here she meets women in grief, but who find that new nipples make it easier to move on.
Linda Engman has extensive experience of tattooing and has also made nipples on women before at her own studio. She has practiced making realistic nipples on herself and has even one on her own knee!

There isn’t really a school for these types of tattoos, but it has been about curiosity and interest,

says Linda Engman.

Before Linda was employed as a tattoo artist in Region Skåne, it was nurses who did the tattoos. Cancer patients who got tattoos at Linda’s studio tipped off the region, which then hired her.

The queue for tattoos built up during the pandemic and some woman had to wait up to three years. Linda Engman says they are now cutting the queue and she is tattooing up to six women a day, two days a week.

Not recognizing their body

Most of the women Linda Engman tattoos want their nipples to look like they did before. But there is every opportunity to be creative.

There was one woman who wanted a small heart in her nipple, so I said “of course”.

Many of the women Linda meets who have had breast cancer, and then reconstructed new breasts, find that they are reminded of what they have been through when they see their body in the mirror. Many find that their body feels ’empty’ without nipples.

Recreating the nipple can make them feel more “whole”, says Linda Engman.

In the video below copied from SVT’s website, you can follow the reporter Julia Wiberg into the tattoo parlour and hear Linda Engman talk about her work!

I have added English subtitles to it and you can also read the translation at the bottom of this post.

Translation of the transcription

-Right now, I have tattooed the areola, and will start tattooing the nipple itself.
-Linda Engman is Region Skåne’s only employed tattooist.
-It feels very exotic.
-Here at the hospital in Malmö, she recreates the nipples of women who have had breast cancer.
-It is so very common and to suffer from it and then be declared healthy, and still not recognise your body, that’s… I realise that it’s difficult. So there is sadness, but also the opportunity to pull the pieces together. Now we have done the last thing. Now we can move on.
-Is it most common to want a nipple that looks like it did before?
-Yes, the people I have tattooed who have lost both nipples often say that they just want to look the same as before.
-And you also have a nipple on your knee?
-Yeah, that was the first nipple that I did to try it out and see if I could do it. If I could make it look realistic.

  1. Region Skåne is the health authority in the most southern county of Sweden. ↩︎

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