Cancer takes so much . . .
My plastic surgeon who surgically placed the artificial breasts I now bear once said to me when I was stage 0, “I am glad you didn’t have to go through chemotherapy because women look so much older afterwards." Looking back, I think he should have refrained from saying that to me since there was no guarantee I would not have to have chemo one day. Now I know what he meant, unfortunately, about "looking older".
That was 10 years ago. I have had frequent visits from the chemotherapy drug Taxotere since that time. Although I am now 50, I do believe my treatments have made me look older than I would have if I had not had those visits.
Taxotere took my hair. After that treatment ended, my scalp hair returned. For reasons I am not sure of--except for possibly the chemo induced menopause--my eyebrows and eyelashes have been slow to return. As you can see from the picture below my eyebrow and eyelash hair are best described as nonexistent. It has been like this for almost two years.
Yesterday, I decided to take the plunge and let her do her magic.
I did it! I got a tattoo.
Well, not exactly.
Eyebrow tattoos, at least the kind I have, are not like body tattoos. The ink is plant-based. Many of the colors used in body tattoos have metals in the ink. Before I received my new brows I would wonder why each MRI technician always asked if I had any tattoos. Now I understand the reason for the question. MRI machines use magnets, so tattoos with metal in the ink don't mix well with those machines. The result, although rare, can be swelling or burning to the tattooed area. The images created can be unclear as well.
Body tattoos have another difference. They are done with a needle(s). Eyebrow tattoos are done with—well, something else.
When the session first began I cringed each time the tattooing instrument went across my skin despite the use of a numbing cream.
I asked, “What are you using--a razor?”
She said, “Yes.”
In which I responded, “It sure feels like a razor.”
I had no idea how the inking was done until she started the procedure. I didn’t ask because I assumed it would be with a needle. Instead, a razor cut very thin lines into my skin while ink filled the slits. Each individually inked-cut-line gives the illusion of hair.
The picture you are about to see is the beginning stages of my new face. These brows will heal and fade a little. It is my job to keep the area moist so the skin pushes out as little of the ink as possible. In 30 days, I will go in to have the final product perfected.
One interesting bit of trivia that I didn’t know I would ever use was used yesterday. I had learned that the left side of a person’s face is more animated than the right. For me, this is indeed fact. It is very hard to get eyebrows to be symmetrical when one eyebrow doesn’t cooperate. If I talked or smiled my left eyebrow would move into a new position. It was especially noticeable when I arrived home, looked in the mirror and tried to adjust to my new look.
Oh symmetry, my symmetry . . . where are you?
I do like having eyebrows again. My right one is my favorite. Can you tell that none of those lines are real hair? I hope that the lines can be tweaked so the left one looks more like the right one.
If my brows look shinny it is due to the Vaseline that must be applied and reapplied for 7 to 10 days so the area does not dry out. Once the skin is healed I will be able to get rid of the shine.
For any of you looking to have this procedure done, I encourage you. Mine are not exactly what I pictured beforehand, but overall it is close.
Now, what can I do about my eyelashes?
I was told that the pain varies from person to person. For me, the pain caused me to grasp my hands tightly and scrunch up my toes. As time moved along, the pain lessened some but not completely. At least I wasn’t brought to tears.
** It has almost been a year since I had my eyebrows done. Unfortunately they have faded. Will I do it again? No. It didn't last long enough for me to spend the time it takes to have them done and to feel the that painful razor blade again.