Breast care nurses receive vital training thanks to Bradford’s Bosom Friends

A hospital service which helps breast cancer patients ‘feel complete’ after surgery has received a boost from a Bradford charity.

Thanks to a £3,000 donation from Bosom Friends, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been able to train two nurses in the art of nipple tattooing.

Last month, 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 previously run by Breast Care Nurse Specialist, Lorraine Newtown, who retired in March.   .

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.

Patient’s recovery

“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.”

Bosom Friends’ Committee Member, Julia Sunderland, is testament to the service’s expertise.

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.”

Vital service

Around 50 patients a year have this treatment and Consultant Breast Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon, Andrew Williams, believes it is an absolutely vital service.

He said he was delighted that the Trust now has not one but two nurses proficient in nipple tattooing as previously this was a skill that had been performed by doctors.

Mr Williams added: “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.”

Bosom Friends is a patient-led charity which provides emotional support and friendship to new and existing breast cancer patients. The group also funds enhancements to the Trust’s breast care service. Bosom Friends meet at 7pm on the third Wednesday of every month at Cancer Support Yorkshire, Smith Lane, Bradford. New members are always welcome.


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Note to Editors:


  1. Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust:

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is responsible for providing hospital services for the people of Bradford and communities across Yorkshire. We serve a core population of around 500,000 and provide specialist services for 1.1 million people.

Our 5,500 staff work over several sites, including Bradford Royal Infirmary, which provides the majority of inpatient services, and St Luke’s Hospital, which predominantly provides outpatient and rehabilitation services. We also manage local community hospitals at Westwood Park, Westbourne Green, and Eccleshill.

In early 2017, a new £28 million wing opened at Bradford Royal Infirmary, part of a £75m investment to improve patient care across our hospitals over a five-year period. It provides world-class facilities for elderly care, children’s services, a state-of-the-art intensive care unit with increased single-room provision and a retail concourse.

The new wing is a continuation of our work to improve patient experience after our new £2 million neonatal unit officially opened in January 2015. Our maternity services were recently shortlisted for the Royal College of Midwives’ (RCM) Midwifery Service of the Year Award, recognising excellence and innovation in the provision of maternity care.

In 2017, we also completed a £2m refurbishment of our Emergency Department (ED) as part of an ambitious vision to create a more efficient acute medicine service for the people of Bradford. It has been designed to provide a slicker and more efficient service, with faster senior clinical involvement at an early stage in the patient pathway.

As a teaching hospital, we are at the forefront of education and development in healthcare, and have an excellent reputation for research performance. We are one of the leading centres in conducting applied research in the country, particularly in quality and safety, elderly care and rehabilitation.

The Trust is home to the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR) where researchers have led the development, validation and implementation of the award-winning Bradford Electronic Frailty Index (eFI) which helps calculate an elderly person’s risk of disability, impairment, falls and complications of chronic diseases, as well as their diminishing independence and capability. This is now being used by 98 per cent of all GPs across the country.

Our award-winning Ophthalmology department is home to numerous worldwide clinical trials taking the lead in eye care research and we are one of only three sites in the United Kingdom to be enlisted in the Perioperative Enhanced Recovery Hip Fracture Care of Patients with Dementia (PERFECTED) study, which will investigate how the NHS can introduce better standards of care to improve outcomes for people with dementia.

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The Trust has its own Bradford Hospitals Charity: