Breast cancer survivors offered free 'pay with a smile' nipple and areola tattoo treatment at Blackpool studio

A beauty therapist in Cleveleys is providing free areola tattoos to people who have had a mastectomy and is the only qualified person offering the treatment in the North West.
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Kerry Benson helps survivors regain their self-confidence after breast cancer surgery.

She began offering the ‘pay with a smile’ service around two years ago, and said there is ‘no catch’.

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Kerry, 38, said: “Everybody knows someone that’s been affected by breast cancer. When this treatment first became available I jumped straight into it, knowing that it changes lives.”

She said that the free procedure gives back ‘confidence, symmetry and normality’ after surgery and can help the survivor to close a chapter of their life as well as feeling happier about their appearance.

The beauty therapist works at her studio on Anchorsholme Lane.

She makes a living by doing semi-permanent make-up, but incurs all costs so that she can offer this special free service once a month.

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Kerry uses pigment to create realistic-looking areolas and nipples after a client has had reconstructive surgery.

She added: “It's a big part of a woman, so to be left with nothing, or quite severe scarring, it's very impacting on the day to day life, personal life, looking at yourself, things like that. So it's just a nice touch to help them pass on and finish that part of their life."

Kerry, who worked as a tattooist for 15 years, also treats men and transgender breast cancer survivors.

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But Kerry and her husband Dave have struggled to spread the word about the kind-hearted gesture.

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She promotes her cosmetic work on Instagram and on her website, but has sometimes been flagged on Facebook as inappropriate content.

She said: “Until about 12 months ago it was really taboo and you couldn’t post on social media without getting a ban.”

Kerry is also listed on a database, called World Medical Artists, which shows all practices worldwide that offer the service.

There are 17 in England, including three in West Yorkshire but most are down south.

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The pigment is matched to a client’s skin colour, and injected using a very fine needle to create delicate, fine details for a hyper-realistic appearance.

It needs to have healed for between six month to a year before medical tattoos can be done, to ensure the treatment is as safe as possible.

She said: "It's a two part session. First initial appointment can take anywhere from one to three hours depending on how much work you're doing. And then from six to eight weeks you'd come back, we have a check-up and we fine tune anywhere or go a bit darker deeper, bigger changes you want and then you go away and come back to me when you need it."

The appearance of the tattoo can change slightly as it heals, often softening in colour and losing hard lines. The final effect is visible around a month after the procedure.

Kerry also offers free touch-ups when needed, as they can fade over time.

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