Realistic 3D nipple tattoos can be an effective tool in helping reconstruction patients return to a sense of normalcy.

A partial or full mastectomy for breast cancer survivors can be a complex emotional experience, and even with good reconstruction, the end product can be less than desirable, which is why some women are turning to nipple tattoos.

In the case of many mastectomies, women are unable to retain their nipples. Some opt for surgical nipple reconstruction, but a recent Buzzfeed article is looking into the success of realistic 3D nipple tattoos.

Nipple tattoos are cheaper and less involved than receiving a surgically reconstructed nipple, but the cathartic effect it can have on reconstruction patients makes a life-changing impact for some women.

Tattoo artists who specialize in nipple tattoos also say that their work, while challenging, alters their perspective as well, improving the lives of people who might never have considered a tattoo in any other context.

“[It was] like they were breasts in my clothing, but when I looked at myself in the mirror, they were just two flesh-colored appendages,” she said of her pre-tattoo chest. “They didn’t have the anatomical markings of a breast. Once [the nipples] were back, you feel more complete, more whole, more normal. But I didn’t realize I didn’t feel normal.”

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