Nipple reconstruction can have a huge impact on the emotional-recovery process of mastectomy patients. Research backs up the fact that nipples play a key role in the emotional-recovery process.

For patients who can’t keep their nipples, reconstructed, tattooed, or prosthetic options can greatly improve their quality of life.

Here, five women who have undergone post-mastectomy breast reconstruction share how they dealt with the loss of their nipples—and how it impacted their lives.