Halton Healthcare’s Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital (OTMH) has become one of the first public hospitals in Ontario to offer cancer patients the option of areola tattooing as a physician-funded service.

This advanced technique uses pigment to simulate the physical dimension and depth of an areola following post-mastectomy breast reconstruction, Halton Healthcare said in a news release.

While breast reconstruction post-mastectomy is covered by OHIP, areola tattooing is only covered if performed by a physician, Halton Healthcare notes.

“Dr. Alexandra Ginty is the first physician in the region to become certified in this highly specialized field,” the organization said.

Dr. Ginty is a family physician and surgical assistant at OTMH and is the regional primary care lead for cancer screening for the Mississauga Halton Central West Regional Cancer Program.

She is also a breast cancer survivor and artist.

The areola tattooing procedure is performed in the outpatient medical-surgical clinic at OTMH using state-of-the-art equipment, Halton Healthcare said.

“A lot of people know about surgery and chemo, but they don’t put breast reconstruction into the equation,” Dr. Ginty said. “Areola tattooing is not decorative; it’s the end of the restorative phase. Bringing this into the hospital as a funded service is about equity and telling people we feel this is part of the process of healing…the psychological part.”

Added Sandy Garraway, program director, cancer and ambulatory care: “One of the areas we try to focus on is survivorship or what happens after active treatment is over. This service finishes the journey; it restores women to their full selves.”

“When you have breast cancer, every step of the way there are times when you are up and times when you are down,” said patient Harminder Kauldhar. “This made me so happy. It was emotional for me, very emotional.”

HaltonHillsToday, Staff