«Usually people bring with them symbols of strength, renewal and bravery as if they were amulets or reminders of the qualities that helped them overcome serious obstacles»
The art of tattooing has ancient roots, dating back even to ancient Egypt. Throughout history, various cultures have invented new methods to adorn their bodies, giving to each tattoo a meaning: of passage, of victory, of renewal. With Andrea Becchi, tattoo artist and owner of Cluster Tattoo Studio in Turin, we also explored the theme of medical tattoos. This type of body modification aims to give back serenity and aesthetics to those people that, after surgeries such as breast cancer, have lingering scars on their body.
The meaning of tattoos
Colour-rich, black-and-white, with countless styles. Tattoos are many and varied, and each of them has a meaning. «The reasons that encourage people to get tattoos are extremely personal» Andrea Becchi says. «There are those who collect important moments, those that prefer places and memories and those that simply enjoy having a tattoo in a style they like».
Often, when facing a hard and delicate moment in their lives, people tend to imprint that moment as a symbol of an overcome challenge. «A difficulty, a disease or a won battle are some of the strongest reasons that people permanently imprint something on their skin. Usually people bring with them symbols of strength, renewal and bravery as if they were amulets or reminders of the qualities that helped them overcome serious obstacles».
«In these years I often had to cover up or mask scars. Whether they were from accidents or surgeries, these scars are sometimes carried as a mark of negativity» Becchi explains, as he has helped many people with his craft. «Covering or masking these scars with a tattoo allowed them to regain their freedom».
How to care for tattoos
Medical tattoos should usually be made after the scar has had the time to heal; according to Becchi, ideally after 2 years after surgery. This is to make sure the skin is as elastic and stable as possible. «The drawing should then be made to “deceive” the gaze and intelligently hide the scar without working too much on the skin».
On one hand, caring for the tattoo is not that hard; what matters is the care for the skin that supports it. «For a tattoo to heal you need to just lightly take care of it and it will stabilise in around ten days» Becchi says.
On the other hand, skin requires a lot more care than the tattoo in itself. «Hydrating and protecting the skin is as important to prevent ageing as it is to preserve tattoos. Sun in particular is not a friend of ink, especially if it is coloured, and so has to be protected with highly protective sunscreen to make sure that definition and brightness of the tattoo is preserved for as long as possible».
The craft of the tattoo artist
A tattoo artist that helps people with these complex problems cannot be just an artist; they have to be trained professionals with deep knowledge of the skin and of different body parts. «The aim of a permanent tattoo sometimes is to solve aesthetic or medical issues. In this case it is important to be competent in both the geometrical line of the body and in the pigmentations that look natural and elegant» Becchi continues.
Luckily, the importance of the craft of these skilled tattoo artists is getting more and more known. «In 2017 Piedmont introduced specific classes for medical tattoo artists, which were recently improved upon. This was made to better train them, as it is a very delicate craft».
The objective is to train true professionals with medical knowledge about the parts they will treat. «In the narrow case of medical tattoos I hope that we will soon be able to have more knowledgeable artists that can handle a delicate situation, both from a medical and emotional point of view, and create realistic and appealing drawings».