A breast cancer survivor who endured a double mastectomy has set up a company to provide fake nipples for other patients.
Auckland mother Emma Conyngham, 43, believes she has come up with a world-first by offering custom-made, temporary nipple tattoos that can be designed from selfie photographs.
"I can custom-make tattoos for women who have had a single mastectomy or design them from pictures of nipples supplied by other Kiwi women," she said. "They look incredibly realistic."
Conyngham came up with the idea after undergoing a major health scare this year.
In January, she had breast reduction surgery but within two months she was reeling after doctors told she had cancer and her breasts would have to be removed.
"I had wanted smaller boobs for 30 years because my natural breasts were enormous," she said. "I was delighted when I went from a size F to a size B, but I hardly got any time to enjoy my new look.
"After the double mastectomy I looked like something from a slasher movie.
"Even though I told myself I was just happy to be alive and thankful the cancer was caught early, the truth is I felt like a freak."
Conyngham, from Mt Eden, saw temporary nipple tattoos overseas but was shocked at the cost of postage to New Zealand and was disappointed with the quality.
She decided to devise a way of making her own tattoos and recruited friends who modelled for pictures.
"It then dawned on me that people could have tattoos made from their existing nipples if they took a selfie and sent it to me. I'm also even looking for cool pierced nipples to do a novelty range."
The stick-on tattoos will last up to seven days.
A set of six ready-made tattoos cost $19.99 from Conyngham's new website www.nicenips.co.nz.
Customised tattoos cost from $75 for 24 and have such names as "cream puff", "strawberry shortbread" and "toffee pop".
Conyngham's surgeon, Wayne Jones, from Breast Associates in Auckland, was the first to buy a set of the fake nipples for his clinic.
"I put a tattoo on his arm and he couldn't stop laughing because it was so realistic it was freaking him out," she said.
The tattoos are already attracting interest from doctors in Europe and are available in 30mm diameter and 40mm diameter sizes.
They are shower-proof but can be removed with eucalyptus oil, Conyngham added.
"They bridge a gap for women who have had mastectomies and who might have a long wait to have breast reconstruction surgery completed and before having proper nipples put back in place.
"They are fun, cute and medically appropriate."