axillary lymph clearance

Im having this on Monday as a day patient not having my breast touched at all has anyone else had this done and can you tell me what the recovery time is like etc etc please?
Can you move your arm enough to get dressed etc?
Was it sore for long?
Any info greatly appreciated thanks.

Hello Hatty

I had this done the same time as my WLE my scar stops about and inch from the centre of my armpit. I was told afterwards by my physio that the further into the armpit the surgeon goes the longer it takes to heal, i think this is because the nerves /muscle get more complex further in. I was able to dress ie put a front opening top on after day 3 , but took longer to put an over the head top on I would say that took me over a week to be able to do comfortably. I was able to wash my hair over the side of the bath at 4 days. Even though the scaring into the armpit is painful at first try and do the excersises you should get from the physio. I got on with doing loads but avoided hoovering , lifting the kettle etc because it just seemed silly to put strain on that side. I wasn’t allowed to drive for 3 weeks but that was as much my car insurance company as the surgeon telling me not to
Hope all goes well on Monday

love rhian x

I was able to dress, or at least put a nightie on, within a couple of hours at the most. A lady who went in before me was warned that she was getting a much bigger dose of anaesthetic and that it would be longer before they wanted her to use her arm, but she too got feeling and movement back after a few hours.

I had hoped to go home late afternoon or early evening, but in the event I was the last patient and had to wait until mid afternoon for the op, so I was kept in overnight rather than going home very late at night.

I was given a good supply of paracetamol and ibuprofen (I don’t tolerate codeine very well) which I alternated to get the best effect without taking too much of either.

To be honest, this hurts more than a lumpectomy, because there are more nerves involved. Another possible problem is a seroma, a collection of fluid. If either is too bad for you, phone your BCN and ask for help. Seromas can be drained (painless) and additional pain relief can be prescribed. But how much pain seems to vary a lot. Some people find they have a numb patch on the back of their arm which persists for a while.

I could move my arm pretty freely from the start, and I started on the exercises right away. I still do the stretching ones because I still have some discomfort from the healing nerves and stretching and creating natural sensations help to overcome the artificial ones, as well as maintaining mobility. I decided not to bother with painkillers anymore after a while. When I’m busy with something I don’t notice!

Good luck


Hi Hatty I had ANC at same time as WLE so a bit different from you. I had to stay in overnight as the ANC ( had all 3 levels of nodes removed) had a drain in and my surgeon always has ‘his ladies’ stay in overnight in those circumstances. I too got on with the exercises very quickly after the op ( the physio came to the ward both pre and post op)Surgeon said no driving for 2-3 weeks I think, but with the drain in for a week and the anaesthetic I did not want to go far. Until after the first week when I really felt able to drive.I had little in the way of pain and had to be woken up on the ward to take paracetamol and was sent home with co-codamol.I also had a drip in when I got back to the ward as my BP went down a bit but that came out v. quickly.I too was able to dress myself the next morning to return home Good Luck J xx

Hi Hatty
I too had a WLE plus ANC at the same time. You will get some advice on what exercises to do and I started these pretty much the next day. I was kept in for 5 days and was only allowed out once the drains came out. I was on a ward with mostly bc ladies.
It was sore for first couple of days and then I just took paracetamol with codeine added during the night. I could move my arm straight away, but lifting the arm at first is painful. I had to be able to lift my arm for radio therapy, and it took me 5 weeks to be able to fully raise the arm. Today, I have near enough full movement and am very happy with that.
My tip is to exercise little and often, don’t overdo it, but keep at it. Even when you think it’s fine. I had my op in Nov and I still exercise my arm…Hope this helps and wish you all the best next week!
Nikki x

Thank you all so much for taking the time to post. Im lucky that im not losing my breast so was hoping it would be easier by the sound of it not so lol typica a?
Im going down for my op first or second so am hoping to be home by 4.00pm. I cant take coedine so i will ring and let them know so thanks for that tip.
Try and find something lose fitting thats a joke these days with the weight ive put on from chemo. Thanks for your good wishes. Hope your all doing well.

Hatty, I can’t really add muc more to what’s been said - it’s all great advice.

Every hospital seems to treat you slightly differently. I had my ANC and WLE in a small private hospital on Christmas Eve and came home the next day, although I could have stayed in if I hadn’t felt ready. It was always planned that I’d have one night in - I was the only overnight patient on Christmas Eve - one patient for about half a dozen staff!

I came home with a drain in place and I had to check teh amount every day. After 7 days it was still draining a lot so they released the vacuum on the bottle and it slowed right down so they took it out the next day. I didn’t have any problems with seroma.

You’ll need a bag to carry your bottle in if you come home with a drain. Some places provide one but mine didn’t. I used a shiny red Christmas gift bag because it had a square base so didn’t fall over easily and my children christened it Calvin for some reason! Some people prefer a cross the body bag so you don’t forget it and leave it behind when you walk off! the drain was very easy to cope with and that had been what I was possibly most worried about.

Regarding clothes, I went to TK Maxx and bought a couple of huge men’s shirts to wear when I got home.

And sadly it is absolutely true that the ANC is by far the most painful part of the op to recover from and has very long lasting/permanent after effects on the feeling in your upper arm and armpit. But hey, it’s better than the alternative!

Good luck with it all,

Jane xxx

Every hospital or clinic treats you in a different way. I faced the same situation. Just make sure you go through a reference and the doctor can be a reliable one.