Lumpectomy & SLNB Surgery Experience stories

Hi All,

I have surgery on 27th February. I will be having a Lumpectomy and SLNB.

Just after some advice on what to expect afer surgery. How long before you have full range of movement back.

I play alot of Netball 2 to 4 games a week and my team have made the cup final on 25th March I’m so desperately wanting to be able to play that game :pensive:

I had it in my head it was a max 2 week recovery and just thought I’d be back to my normal self but after reading about the surgery in more detail I’m getting nervous.

Kathy x

1 Like


I had a lumpectomy & snlb last October, I pretty much had full movement within a few days but felt like a had something under my arm for many weeks which was strange. At my hospital they didn’t remove the dressings for two weeks and you are told to wear the surgical stockings for two weeks as well.

I guess we are all different and recover at different rates, I would speak to you surgeon and ask what they advise, I know I was told driving would be about 2 weeks but I found I could do that earlier but I was very careful with that whole area and the two scars I had.

Sorry I don’t play sport so can’t advise how that would be, but for me personally I would be nervous about that area & my healing think.

Hope somebody on hear can give you better advise about when you can play netball again.

Good luck
J xx

1 Like

Hi I had lumpectomy and SNLB on 19th December.
I’m 60, and relatively fit. I had a long history of impingement of the external rotator cuff on the left, same side as my cancer so was paranoid about my shoulder. I found the scar pain (I opted for an under boob incision) was not bad at all, and resolved quite quickly. I started exercising straight away and it’s gone through stages of being tight but is generally ok.
The negatives - I found the pain isn’t linear - ie you stop taking painkillers (I took paracetamol with 8mg codeine at first) and then a week later it feels worse. I would advise taking regular paracetamol for a few weeks. It creeps up on you and definitely made more upset.
The biggest shock that no one told me about is the nerve pain. Underneath your armpit , top of your arm and down the side of your boob is very tingly, sore, feels like chafed (but not) anxiety feels enormous. It’s where the nerves are so frequent in that area. I found it really bad by the evening and then discovered cool packs, which helped enormously. I bought like a holster device from Amazon and the packs just chill in the fridge. I’d sit in the evening with one inside my bra, helped massively.
On the subject of bras went through dozens !!! Eventually found one that was comfortable, but I would be prepared to not be able to tolerate your normal sports bras if they’re tight.
In summary, it’s a peculiar experience, some days it feels like your boob is sticking out the side too much and your arm is brushing against it all the time. Somedays shooting pains in the breast and nipple. Some days generally achy. I massage daily with bio oil, and it’s very hard still over the tumour site. I’m told it softens by 6 month’s.
I think I ignored the “wide” bit, I was so relieved that it wasn’t mastectomy I think I imagined I would barely notice the lumpectomy !!! The scar is fine but the skin has “creased” over the tumour site and it’s got that peu d’orange dimpling like cellulite. No lymphoedema so far thank goodness.
All In all, very weird not like any other surgery I’ve had.
As for competitive netball at 1 month, I don’t think I could have, but you may be tougher than me and I absolutely think my experience of the surgery was coloured by my emotional state which has been rubbish since diagnosis.
Really hope it goes well for you, definitely invest in a cool pack and I hope you win :tada::tada::tada:

I am 46 and I had lumpectomy and Sentinel lymph node biopsy on 23rd Jan. I felt very little pain after op but things were tender and I sloshed a bit - a small seroma that resolved itself. The wounds healed well. I never lost any movement in my shoulders or arms. I felt physically recovered in about 2 weeks but as my results appointment was given for 6 weeks after the op, I’ve been very anxious since. I believe if all goes well, netball will be ok after 2 or 3 weeks though you might not feel like it mentally. Good luck.


It’s not going to be the same for everyone. It may depend where the lump was removed from, how many lymph nodes were taken, how big you are etc

In my case , I had full range of movement straight away - incision round nipple and 1 node taken - never did any exercises as no point.

However, couldn’t tolerate a bra for weeks (lived in crop tops) because of where the incisions were, had little normal pain, but could not be hugged for months and let’s just say bouncing around at tap class wasn’t very pleasant for several weeks. It didn’t help that they had to have 3 goes at getting clear margins as well so no chance to settle. (4 weeks between ops)

Did not need pain relief after a couple of days

But, and you might smile at this, because of the dressings and where the incision was I had a permanently erect nipple until I could remove the dressings after a week - that was a really weird sensation, very unsettling!!

I was lucky as did not get seromas etc

However you will be feeling , just remember it will pass and take a breather to concentrate on yourself and on healing. And just take those hugs gently!!

Just be careful with the activity - netball requires so much upper body strength and movement. I am an open water swimmer and was missing my cold water swims terribly so at about 19 days post - op I decided that today was the day to restart swimming .- gently . I had removed my dressing there were no complications with haematoma / seroma or cording and both wounds were dry and healing well and I had had full movement in the arm and shoulder for about 10 days. However once I got in and tried to swim after a few strokes it felt like something was going to tear - the temperature of the water probably didn’t help . After another week or so it was considerably easier even though the water was no warmer.

If it goes well for you ( I really hope it does ) you might just make it but I would get advice from your BCN . At a recent BC support group the visiting BCN said that the info on lymphoedema was out of date - lots of things that I was afraid of doing like getting a massage , like plank and downward facing dog poses in Yoga are safe to do but whether rigorous training and full netball matches would be a good idea so soon after surgery I don’t know. Have you spoken to your coach ? There may be some sort of policy in place and BC is a relatively common condition so this may be something they have dealt with before. Another option might be to get some input from a Sports Therapist - see what they say and if they can help you.

Joanne. Xx

1 Like

Hello @kat-jack

As everyone has already said we are all different and will experience different recoveries: there isn’t really a normal.

Personally I had a lumpectomy and SNLB, and initially I found the pain from the SNLB more uncomfortable than the breast wound. I followed the post operation exercise regime to the letter to keep shoulder mobility and found them uncomfortable at times but didn’t lose any mobility in my shoulder.

What I did find is that it took longer to lose discomfort in the “jiggle” in my breast: I am relatively fit and run regularly, but also a size F so for quite some time after the operation I found I couldn’t run. I remember being quite amazed at the difference a new pair of “stabilising” trainers made to reduce discomfort just walking. I can’t remember the exact timescales for recovery but it was at least six weeks

I also felt quite fatigued for some time after the operation: I was amazed at how little exercise is recommended even for people who exercise regularly, but there is a reason for that, your body will automatically use lots of energy to help the healing process and the internal scars will take longer to heal than the external scars, so don’t be surprised if your energy levels dip.

Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is horrible in so many ways: you often hear of it being like a rollercoaster of emotions and having something that you are looking forward to taken away because of the diagnosis and treatment is yet another emotion to throw into the mix.

I would suggest your best option is wait and see and please try not to too hard on yourself if you aren’t able to play. I would hope that even if you are not able to play the love and support that you get from your team mates and from being part of the team will aid you in your recovery going forward. I know of a number of ladies who’ve found exercise and sport to be their sanity saviour whilst going through treatment but the key is to listen to your body and stay within its limits, you will come back stronger but patience is key

Sending you lots of love and healing for your upcoming surgery

AM xxx

PS my mum was always told to take extra Vitamin C to aid healing so I had an effervescent tablet every day during my post operation recovery, no idea if it made a difference but it certainly won’t do any harm :wink:


Thank-you for all your replies, advice and experiences.

My surgery has beem moved now to tomorrow so thats an extra 3 days of recovery time in the bag :ok_hand::muscle::smile:

So far all the nurses and my consultant are positive I should be ok to play by then. So I will aim to get myself healed and ready for it even if it doesn’t happen.

I have very small Breasts A/B cup and to be honest have zero interest in keeping them at all now and do not want a reconstruction but sadly they have zero listening or intrest in taking them off at the moment been told to come back in 6 months to discuss a further op to have them removed… I think they think I will go away and change my mind. (I won’t) but thats another story and challenge for another day.


1 Like