A BRADFORD charity has given a £3,000 donation to a service which helps breast cancer patients 'feel complete' after surgery.

The donation, from Bosom Friends, has enabled Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to train two nurses in the art of nipple tattooing.

Breast Care Nurse Specialist, Charlotte Ward and Plastic Surgery Trauma Sister, Tammy Bingham, underwent a two-day training course at St Luke’s Hospital after taking over the service.

Miss Ward said: “Nipple tattooing delivers the ‘finishing touch’ for our patients who have had reconstructive surgery after breast cancer and is carried out after the breast has had time to heal. Instead of using tissue to rebuild a nipple and areolus, women can choose to have these vital structures tattooed.

"Alternatively, a nipple can be reconstructed with local tissue and then only the areolus tattooed.

Nipple tattoos are similar to real tattoos in that we use semi-permanent dye inserted into the skin.

The finished tattoo is incredibly realistic and our patients are delighted with the results as it makes them feel complete.

“It’s a really important part of the patient’s recovery and, as health professionals, gives us valuable, one-to-one time with the women in the final stage of their treatment. Nipple tattooing helps to give patients their life back and reinstates body confidence once again.”

Julia Sunderland, Bosom Friends' Committee Member, knows how vital the service is to women who have experienced breast cancer.

She said: “I was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 years ago and I had a single mastectomy, followed by delayed reconstruction surgery in 2016.

"Nipple tattooing isn’t painful at all. I had my nipple reconstructed and then a couple of months later I had my tattoo done. It wasn’t sore at all because after surgery, the area is numb as it doesn’t contain any nerves, so there is nothing to be frightened about.

“Having the tattoo has boosted my confidence no end. Beforehand, I was quite down about my scars but now my nipple is so realistic, I am absolutely delighted. It really is a tremendous service and Bosom Friends sees this as money well spent because it gives women the boost they need to carry on with their lives.”

Around 50 patients a year have the treatment.

Andrew Williams, Consultant Breast Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon, said: “To reconstruct a breast you have to reconstitute every single part of the breast and it has to be appropriate to each individual patient’s body habitus, as well as being a match to the other breast.

"A nipple and an areolus are an essential part of any breast reconstruction and the tattoos are literally the ‘finishing touches’ to a patient’s journey with us.

“It’s absolutely vital that the NHS provides this service as part of breast reconstruction following a cancer diagnosis, as women often get very down and many can’t even look at their bodies in the mirror, yet when they get their nipple tattooed, it’s as if a weight has been lifted off their shoulders and you see them smile again which is fantastic.”