Father gets cranial tattoo matching son's surgery scar

Posted at 6:27 AM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-14 06:27:18-04

CHIPPEWA VALLEY, WI (WQOW/CNN) – A Wisconsin father went under the needle to get a cranial tattoo in support of his son, who is battling a rare condition.

With his 6-year-old son Casey facing a second round of surgery in July, Jeremy Cortner wanted to show his son that scars are nothing to be ashamed of.

"I saw another father who did the same thing. His son had a brain tumor. He did it to boost the confidence of his child, and that's kind of the same reason I'm doing it,” Jeremy Cortner said.

The permanent design, which looks like his son’s scar from his first round of cranial surgery, stretches from ear to ear on Jeremy Cortner’s newly shaven scalp. The father says the entire tattoo is 12 inches in length, and there are six stitches on each segment.

Casey had a condition known as craniosynostosis where the sutures in his head fused prematurely. Doctors did surgery on the boy when he was an infant to let his brain have room to grow, Jeremy Cortner says.

In July, doctors will repair “soft spots” on Casey’s skull that haven’t healed since his first surgery, the boy’s parents say.

"They're probably about one to two inches wide, so they're using 3D technology to go in and fill those spots. If we didn't do that, his brain couldn't grow and he would potentially lose his sight and his hearing and his ability to learn because his brain couldn't utilize the room that it should,” Amy Cortner, Casey’s mom, said.

Casey’s parents hope his father’s tattoo will help their son feel better about himself.

"When people ask in public, he can refer to his dad instead of himself, or he can say, 'Look, we're the same.’ You know, so he doesn't feel so alone,” Amy Cortner said.

Jeremy Cortner hopes the tattoo will give his son a memory for a lifetime.

"When he looks back and thinks about his surgery, maybe some positive memories will come out of something special my dad did for me instead of just the negative parts of it and of how painful it was,” he said.

Copyright 2017 WQOW, Cortner Family via CNN. All rights reserved.