This Tattoo Artist Gives Burn Victims in India a New Lease on Life
Categories: Empowerment

This Tattoo Artist Gives Burn Victims in India a New Lease on Life

Ladies First highlights women and girls who are making the world better for the rest of us.

While women across North America are looking into cosmetic tattoo procedures like microblading to help them achieve fuller eyebrows, Canadian tattoo artist Amber Gotzmeister knows that dealing with scarring can be a bit more complex. This is why Gotzmeister teamed up with The India Project Inc., a non-profit organization that was started in 1968 to deliver cosmetic surgical care and health screenings to marginalized populations in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, to offer medical-grade facial tattoos to burn victims and other dermatological patients. 

Anyone who has ever dealt with scarring knows it can take a lot of time and effort to try to cover up without making one’s skin still appear scarred or discolored. Gotzmeister, who co-owns The Good Geisha cosmetic tattoo shop in Toronto, uses her ink to blend natural skin tones that conceal scars and pigmentation abnormalities. Her work helps clients camouflage skin damage from burns and other skin conditions.

“Cosmetic and reconstructive facial tattooing can be life-changing,” shares Gotzmeister in an email to Brit + Co. Among the patients she’s been able to see in India, her tattoos have helped mask everything from scars to vitiligo. She’s even been able to create reconstructions of damaged nipple areolas.

“It re-establishes self-confidence,” she says of her procedures. 

Dr. Supriya Hayer, CEO of The India Project, initially came across Gotzmeister’s work online. The New York City-based Hayer eventually paid Gotzmeister’s Toronto shop an in-person visit in August 2017 to have microblading done on her eyebrows. During Hayer’s appointment, the two women discussed a variety of medical tattoo procedures that would be useful at The India Project’s medical camps. Gotzmeister promptly offered up her services.

“When Supriya mentioned that The India Project needed services like mine the most, I was very excited and honored to be able to offer some of my unique procedures,” Gotzmeister recalls.

Since their meeting in August, Gotzmeister has traveled India in partnership with The India Project. In a single trip, she oversaw the medical tattoo procedures of 75 patients with varying needs alongside a team of 30 surgeons, doctors, and nurses. The best part: All of the services rendered were free of charge.

The response from patients was astonishing. Gotzmeister says that many of the people she tattooed in India returned to thank her and bring her gifts, and led her to realize she had to return to help more. Now in the process of planning her second trip to India with The India Project, Gotzmeister is turning to the public and asking for help in raising the funds necessary to cover the cost of travel, supplies, and materials to perform each procedure. 

She says: “I will be donating my time and expertise to these unique and difficult cases and I am very honored to be pioneering this amazing mission.”

Learn more about The India Project here

(Photos via Amber Gotzmeister)