The 21st Show

Paramedical Tattoos Bring People Comfort, Confidence


Eric Catalano, a tattoo artist in Illinois who specializes in paramedical tattoos. Michael B. Thomas/Kaiser Health News

Before Sarah Penberthy's double mastectomy, she got an elephant tattoo on her finger for good luck from Eric Catalano. While getting the tattoo, she learned Catalano also did nipple and areola tattoos for breast cancer survivors. Penberthy knew then that she would get paramedical tattoos from him after her surgery. 

After Catalano tattoed fingernails on a man who lost two of his fingertips in an accident, he said his work went viral. Now, he offers free paramedical tattoos on Wednesdays at his shop Eternal Ink Tattoo Studio in Hecker, Illinois. 

Cara Anthony, midwest correspondent with Kaiser Health News, says this art can help with individuals' self esteem "by getting a tattoo that blends in instead of standing out." 

Catalano has people come from all over in search of his services. He says the demand can be explained by steep prices for paramedical tattoos and steep prices. He says if people want to help him continue giving free paramedical tattoos, they should contribute to his GoFundMe. 

Penberthy says everything is different post-surgery, including her self-perception. The tattoos gives her some confidence and makes her feel more like herself. 

"The one thing about having the tattoo done is I sometimes forget I had to go through that," she says. "It makes me feel whole." 

Guests: Cara Anthony, midwest correspondent with Kaiser Health News. Eric Catalano, tattoo artist at Eternal Ink Tattoo Studio in Hecker, Illinois. Sarah Penberthy, breast cancer curvivor. 

Prepared for web by WILL intern Sidney Madden. 

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