RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A Raleigh plastic surgeon's office held a special event last week coinciding with national "Bra Day," which stands for "Breast Reconstruction Awareness." It's a movement to educate breast cancer survivors about their reconstruction options. And now, those options have extended to a specialized service that's the only one of its kind in the state.
(Warning: Some of the following may be considered adult content.)
Tara Dunsmore had a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. Wanting to regain some of what she'd lost to that life-saving surgery, she came to Dr. Jeremy Pyle at Davis Plastic Surgery in Raleigh. Although he was able to reconstruct her breasts, there was one thing still missing.
"When they do the double mastectomy or mastectomy it removes all the tissue. Some have nipple sparing, but I did not," Dunsmore explained.
For Dunsmore and many other women in her shoes, the most feasible option for replacing their missing nipples is to get a tattoo.
"She was ready for that stage and she said, 'Well who's the best person in town to go to?' And I said, 'I don't know. There's not anyone,'" recalled Dr. Jeremy Pyle.
Instead, her options were limited to visiting a stranger in a tattoo parlor.
"I had searched and searched and just couldn't find anyone. I ended up having them done, but it was more of a cookie cutter - pick a circle and a color - kind of thing," Dunsmore admitted.
After that experience, Dunsmore said she became convinced fellow breast cancer survivors deserved more than that. So, she set out to get trained to specialize in nipple tattooing.
"She came back a year later and said, 'I've done it. I'm here now. I just need somewhere to do it.' And I said, 'For God's sake, use our office!'" Dr. Pyle said with a smile.
That conversation took place in March, and after that "Pink Ink Tattoo" started operating out of Davis Plastic Surgery.
This past week, as part of a fun-filled event recognizing BRA Day at the office, Dunsmore offered up four free sessions for women, including Becci Tremlett.
Cancer-free for three-and-a-half years, Tremlett also had reconstructive work after her double mastectomy, but said she never felt fully complete until now. And, as often happens with those sitting in Dunsmore's chair, it made for an emotional experience.
"You just don't ever think when you're diagnosed that you're ever going to make it through, and there are so many who don't, and it's just emotional," Tremlett admitted through tears as Dunsmore began tattooing her.
But as she became choked up, Dunsmore knew exactly what to say, and soon the two women were laughing together. That's the special part about the service, women who are able to sit there and share their fears and relief with someone who has been there before. It's why Dunsmore was so passionate to start her business.
"I think that's my greatest feeling, when my clients stand up and they get a look in the mirror and they feel complete. And that to me, we both cry, and it's a great fulfilling feeling," said an equally emotional Dunsmore.
Again, Dunsmore is thought to be the only specialist in the field in the entire state, and possibly only one of two in the entire country. Her services cost $600 to have two tattoos done, or $350 for one. Some insurance companies will cover the procedure.
FOR MORE INFORMATION -
Address: Pink Ink Tattoo LLC Tara Dunsmore
Davis Plastic Surgery, 2304 Wesvill Court, Suite 360, Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone Number: (919) 592-5580
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New specialized service offered in Raleigh for breast cancer survivors