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Leaving her mark on cancer survivors

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Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2016 12:51 pm

Olga Lucia Ramirez said when she was a child she was always artistic and wanted to help people.

Over the years, she has gradually turned that into a career, and today she has her own medical tattooing facility in Manhasset called Olga Lucia Permanent Cosmetics.

Ramirez, of Port Washington, said she works on many patients with medical conditions or traumas that affect their bodies. With a procedure that implants pigment under the skin much like a tattoo, she said she has camouflaged scars for people who were in car accidents, and recreated nipples for breast cancer survivors who underwent mastectomies.

“If I have the art and skills, why not put into service and leave my little print on the world?” Ramirez said.

On Oct. 26 she is extending her help with an annual “Day of Beauty” event that offers free services to breast cancer survivors at her clinic on Northern Boulevard. Now in its fourth year, the event will also include makeup lessons from a makeup artist, and wigs for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

“This year we’re going to do something different,” Ramirez said. “I think it’s going to be better.”

She said the experience has been gratifying for her, and she has received hugs and thank you cards from women showing their appreciation for her work.

“Over the years when the trauma is behind them, they start to want to take back their femininity, so they say, ‘I want to feel better. I want to look better.’ I’m happy to help with that,” Ramirez said.

The event is aimed at people who need  a procedure but can’t afford it, Ramirez said.

While most insurance plans are required to cover the cosmetic procedure for cancer patients, she said strict requirements often make it difficult for patients to come to her facility. But since Ramirez has 23 years of experience in medical tattooing, she said her technique offers a more realistic result than most hospitals.

“The difference with me is this is what I do every day,” she said.

Ramirez said she never imagined she would be doing the work she does today, and it was a gradual change to get there.

She began as an optometrist and said she first started dabbling in permanent makeup after meeting patients who were unable to apply makeup themselves because of poor vision. She taught herself the technique and formally trained to become a licensed beautician, she said, combining her medical background with aesthetics.

She operated for eight years in Roslyn, and just last year moved her facility to Manhasset. She said she keeps her practice in Long Island to make it convenient and affordable for her patients.

Today there aren’t many dedicated practices on Long Island for what Ramirez does, and she said she’s trying to break the stigma against tattooing by educating people about the process and its benefits.

She said her work goes deeper than just aesthetics, but has helped people get back to normal after going through traumas or battling diseases. She has applied permanent cosmetics to women with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis who can’t steadily put on makeup themselves, she said. She also camouflaged scars for people with cleft palates and burn victims, she said.

“This is a very good thing for many of them,” she said. “I’m very proud of my work.”

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