WCU Leaders Partner with Mission Plasticos to Change Patients’ Lives with Nipple Reconstruction

The aftermath of breast removal or partial breast removal as the result of a cancer diagnosis or other medical ailment can be tremendously daunting and emotional for female patients struggling to retain their physical identity. As such, nipple reconstruction procedures have been an important part of making these patients feel whole again–and renew their self-confidence.

West Coast University’s Mary Sanchez (Regional Director, Clinical Partnerships), Renee Schweitzer (Vice President, University Relations), and Sherri Barrett (Campus Dean, Nursing at WCU-Orange County) were invited earlier this year to participate in a series of nipple reconstruction procedures offered through Mission Plasticos. The nonprofit organization relies upon highly skilled medical professional volunteers to improve the quality of life for under-resourced children and adults in need of reconstructive plastic surgery throughout the U.S. and internationally.

Mary, Renee, and Sherri were not only impressed with the unique, realistic, and inspiring aspects of these procedures, but gained a new respect for aesthetic nursing. This area of nursing is a specialty in and of itself, focusing on skin care, body contouring, Botox injection, etc. The RN they observed incorporated the art of tattooing to create 3D nipple tattoos that appear astonishingly realistic. They were also pleasantly surprised to see that two of the nurses learning from the expert tattooing nurse were alumni from WCU’s nursing program.

“Being part of these life-changing procedures was more rewarding than I ever could have anticipated,” said Mary. “One of the women was simply too embarrassed to even look at herself in the mirror, and we could see the fear was still there after the procedure. When she was finally ready to look, you could see this truly transformed the way she felt about herself, and what a dramatic change it made for her.”

Serving patients around the world, the Mission Plasticos nurses have found a unique way to blend their care for patients with tattoo artistry, service, and compassion. As the areas of expertise for future nurses continues to expand, nipple reconstruction and other procedures using tattooing are becoming additional career path opportunities for nursing students to consider.

“The day was certainly transformational for our beautiful patients who had waited months, in some cases years, to complete their journey of care,” said Susan Williamson, Executive Director of Mission Plasticos. “The joy and self-confidence they’ve regained is due to our wonderful volunteers’ kindness and compassion—and it was wonderful to have our WCU guests join us.”

In the coming months, WCU and Mission Plasticos will be expanding their partnership, with more WCU students rotating through the program to learn more about this unique way to serve patients. Thanks to Mary, Renee, and Sherri for continuing to invest in this important cause and helping to provide new ways for us to show that #WCUcares.  

The day was certainly transformational for our beautiful patients who had waited months, in some cases years, to complete their journey of care.  The joy and self-confidence they’ve regained is due to YOUR kindness and compassion.  

WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.