October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the owner of Eternal Ink tattoo shops in Hecker and St. Louis is making a name for himself in the world of post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.
“In addition to tattoos, I also do microdermal implants,” Eric Catalano said. “One part is an implant under the skin, and the other is the piece that screws onto it. If you think about it, you could make anything to screw in.”
Working with a medical-grade silicone company in California, Catalano designed a dermal implant that, when used in conjunction with tattooed areolas, offers a lifelike nipple to women who have undergone mastectomies to remove their breasts.
“My goal is that I can get funding to be able to do this for free so none of the women who want it have to pay for it,” he said.
So far, Catalano has provided the implants for three women from across the country.
The next step for Catalano is to “train surgeons, doctors, body piercers across the U.S. so people can get this done without having to come to St. Louis,” he said.
This type of prosthetic nipple is the first of its kind. The most common products already on the market include combination nipples/areolas that are self-adhering and must be frequently replaced as adhesion wears out.
Catalano has set up a crowd funding site, indiegogo.com/projects/microdermal-nipple-reconstruction-implant#, through which donations can be made.
“Out of all the different funding causes, I haven’t seen one more life-changing or worthy of help,” he posted on the IndieGoGo page.
Catalano has been involved with breast cancer awareness for years. At his tattoo shop in Hecker, Catalano performed 1,500 free pink ribbon tattoos in five years of offering them during the first week of October — a tradition he plans to resurrect next year.
For more information on Catalano and his quest to change breast reconstruction, email him directly at NippleImplant@gmail.com.
Eternal Ink is located at 111 North Main Street in Hecker. The shop’s phone number is 618-719-3273.