mastectomy area appearance

Hi everyone,

I know this is a very sensitive subject, but I really need some information from anyone who is prepared to share their experiences with me.

Following a complete mx I have been left with, difficult to explain, but it looks like tissue that is under my arm coming forward and when I put my arm down it over hangs my mx scar.

I was told initially it was fluid that would disperse over a period of time, however I had my mx 12 months ago and this tissue is still there.

It fits easily into the palm of my hand,

I was wondering, should the whole area be completely flat, as I was led to believe, I dont want reconstruction and told my surgeon this.

I would really appreciate any ladies advice/information as to how your mx area looks feels etc, I am very worried and I am waiting for an urgent appt to get this checked out, I am thinking along the lines any tissue left behind is surely a risk for re-occurence,

many thanks looking forward to hearing from anyone who could offer me some help Liz xxxx

Hi Liz, i thought I would respond to you as I have what seems to be a similar problem with my Mx. I had my Mx in March 2010. My scar area is fine flat and nice but under my arm I have a ‘roll’ of skin/tissue/fat. It is not only unsightly but uncomforable too - I almost have to put my arm out at an angle to accommodate this additonal flesh.
I have many times mentioned it to my team and i was told it was the way that it was ‘sewn’ up after my surgery I even thought at one point it was Lymphodema given the size of it (its not painful though - in fact quite numb).
However i have decided to go for reconstruction as it seems its the only way to get this bulge seen to. My PS has said that in fact it is ‘fat’ and that as part of my reconstruciton surgery they will liposuck this area and flatten it out. I can’t wait for my surgery not only to have a boob and clevage but get rid of the bulging armpit too. You may want to ask about Liposuckshon (sp?)- as even if you don’t want full reconstruction they may be able to ‘tidy’ you up a bit. hope that helps x

hi saffronseed,

thanks for your reply, my main concern was that it could be breast tissue that has been left behind,

I suppose my main concern is that any tissue, fat etc in the area is giving chance for another tumour to develop.

I was really under the impression that the whole area would be completely flat.

did you have a biopsy done of the area to determine whether it is fat or breast tissue you have.

I am going to ask for one just to put my mind at rest, either way I want it removed, shouldnt have been left there in the first place though should it?

Much love to you Liz x

Hi Liz

From what I understand this is quite a common problem. I have the same thing but only on the side I had a radical mastectomy. On the other side where I had a risk-reducing mastectomy it is completely flat.

It seems that it is to do with the way the skin is cut and then sutured. I’m overweight and was very overweight at time of surgery which apparantly does make it more common.

This fold is sometimes referred to as dog ears. You might like to have a look at this link. Big warning! - It does have a lot of photos of women post mastectomy that have dog ears many of them quite bad.

melbournebreastcancersurgery.com.au/gallery-mastectomy.html

I have found that I need to be careful what type of bra I get so that it doesn’t rub.

I’d mention it to your surgeon and see if he’d be willing to do a tidy up operation or check it to put your mind at rest. I’ve decided to live with mine as I can’t face anymore surgery.

Elinda x

Elisabeth I had a “tidy up” operation in April after my bi-mx in December. It improved things a little but not as much as I had hoped. Anyway, the point is that I was told at the follow up that what had been taken away was just fatty tissue and was clear. I was given this information without asking. I hadn’t thought about the possiblity of breast tissue still being around(!)

I think anyone who has nice neat scars is probably less common than having little lumps and folds.

omg I am absolutely astounded by some of the images I am finding on here,
I really believed my chest wall would be absolutely flat,
Compared with some of the ladies I have seen, I really should not cosmetically be complaining,
and genuinely my only concern is that breast tissue may have been left behind,
I am going to attend a review which is being done by another authority, complicated circumstances,

I am praying that my problem is just ‘dog ears’ and its just skin and fat not breast tissue,
either way I fear I must have more surgery to remove whatever it is I am so afraid of getting another cancer diagnosis.
Many thanks for your replies, it has put my mind at rest a bit, not bad enough at 45 to have already had 2 diagnosis, I now feel more mutilated than I thought I ever would.

Yet still I dont mean to sound ungrateful or bitter I am just thank full to still be around for my partner and young children.

Best Wishes to everyone Liz xxxx

Most of those photos are terrible results! The surgeons should be ashamed of themselves! Don’t look if you don’t want to be shocked.
I was interested in this thread as I have something similar - but not nearly as bad - following mx. THe scar is quite tightly adhering to the tissue underneath and is kind of shoved up into my armpit, so there is a little spare roll of skin under the armpit, and a little roll of fat at the front of my armpit which can rub on my bra strap - it’s not too bad as I don;t have much extra weight on me. I can imagine that when you are laid out on the operating table with your arm over your head, in that position the skin looks quite smooth and natural - but the surgeons haven’t got the imagination to consider what it will be like when you put your arm down by your side. Bet if there were more women surgeons there wouldn’t be so many scars like that! The photos I was shown before surgery by BCN were beautiful flat neat scars - I truly think they play down the potential for problems with surgery.
Physiotherapist advised me to massage along the scar using quite strong pressure in a small circular motion, and pinching and rolling along the scar, to try to loosen the adhesion of the top layer of skin to the tissue underneath. I think after a month or so that this is starting to work, very gradually. But the consultants don’t want to discuss this at all, other than to say I could have *another* operation to tidy up the scar. No way am I letting them loose on it again! I would much rather deal with it myself and maybe eventually accept this as the “new me”.
Feeling quite ANGRY about all this just now - but that is better energy than feeling sad and dispirited. Best wishes, M

Mynahbird your underarm sounds very similar to mine, I actually have a ‘pleat’ under mine, at first I could put my finger into it !I could feel a hard mass of skin too.
My physio told me the same as yours did and I have been massaging it regularly, it has improved a lot and my pleat is much less obvious now. My scar is not too bad, but my chest is not flat, I have to have 2 prosthesis’ to fill the space( back to back ).I acccept how I look because it had to be done.
Jean

hi folks

i’m glad to have found this thread. i’m also upset by my ‘breast’. had mx with expander implant underneath and had my first expansion yesterday. i was hoping this would slve the problems but it looks terrible. all dented in some areas and bulging in others. i had nipple-conserving mx but my nipple isn’t in the middle of my breast, it points out to the side and looks ridiculous. there’s a lot of clumping muscle/scar tissue under my arm. i’m quite horrified by it. my surgeon said she could do a tidying up op after rads (i’m about to start 6 months of chemo) but i’m not sure i trust her.

i’ll try massaging it, as you suggest, but to be honest it feels terrible. i dont like touching it. will have to get over that i know …

i went to shiatsu the other day and was told i need to embrace my new breast. not sure how to do that.

would be interested to hear other women’s experiences.

jx

I looked at those images on website and now think what a wonderful surgeon I had! I am glad the tumor has gone and that my scar is as neat as it is. Those poor women were very unlucky with their surgery :frowning:
shelle x

Hi

I also looked at these images and am thanking my surgeon for the neat scar he gave me. Some of those poor women have been butchered and I really feel for them. I have a hard roll of fat under my arm also but I am not the thinnest of people and my BCN has told me to massage it, it’s quite hard where the drain site was but then it’s only been 3 weeks since my Mx. If I was any of those poor women I would be devastated!!! M

Hi all
I had a bilateral mastectomy and axillary clearance on the right side in 2008. Like many of you I was left with a ‘dog ear’ on that side. At the time my surgeon explained that when I was ready I could have a tidy up. I have today been back to see my surgeon and she is going to do a tidy up and remove this flap and flatten the other underarm at the same time. She explained that it is just skin and fat, it gets left because of the way you are laid out with your arms at right angles to your body when they do the mastectomy.
Hope this helps, good luck all
Jennie

Those pictures are shocking, any surgeon who leaves ladies looking like that should not be operating!
Dog ears are caused by the eliptical hole left by the op. Try cutting an eliptical hole in a piece of material and then sew the edges together. The will be “extra” material at the ends = dog ears.
I had a dog ear after my Mx and recon. My surgeon was more than happy to remove it and now the area is nice and flat.

Hi
Oh dear, not very nice pics. I haven’t got a neat scar, its all bumps lumps and puckers. But my big problem is that it still hurts!!! So, no, I don’t think the surgeon who did mine did a good job, and now I’ve seen these pictures, I can see why. I’m a bit puzzled though - are these just pictures of mastectomy scars i.e. a normal range, or pictures of particularly bad scars? K x

i found those pictures quite distressing, my BCN said that mine is a good, tidy job. i’m not seeing that at the moment.
my skin is quite puckered and i have quite a deep dip which i actually thought was the part of scar, until i was able to lift arm fully enough to look properly.
i haven’t been able to massage any of scar area yet, i don’t like touching it either, i suppose its still early days for me

hi gill, how long since your surgery? i also don’t like touching it, feels terrible. i tried to massage it but didn’t last very long. i went to shiatsu session and she said i had to ‘embrace’ the whole area, hated expansion, scars and numbness and all, and send it love because my rejection of it is putting my whole body out of balance. which sounds a bit like mumbo jumbo but i can feel it, my back is skew and sore, and i know i can’t keep trying to ignore the ‘thing’.

i told her i couldn’t love it yet but she said i should breathe white light into the area! so i try to do that.

good to see comments here on ‘tidying up’, i spose that’s where i’m heading after chemo after rads.

xxx

I’ve added a warning to the link showing the photos. I’m truly sorry people have found them distressing, I was hoping it might reassure people that their own scars/dog ears weren’t too bad.

I am happy to remove the link if others think it would be better/ Elinda x.

i think they’ve been posted on other threads too elinda. the warnng probably a good idea but should be ok. to be honest it’s good to talk about it, so thanks.

I just can’t understand it. It was explained to me that if I opted for reconstruction, it would be a 10 hour procedure done by a joint breast surgeon/plastic surgeon. Lots of trouble taken with it etc etc. So if they can get good results with this complicated op, why the poor mastectomy appearance. Is it actually easier surgically to do the recon, than try to get a decent result from the mastectomy? I know mine’s not good, because any medic who’s seen it looks a bit embarassed. Also, because I had to have rads, the attitude seemed to be that it was going to be messed up anyway - and they were sure right on that one!! I haven’t as yet shown anyone at home - and its been months, so tbh I’m not that keen on the idea.

Elinda, don’t worry about the pics, they are a bit of a shock, and I don’t know whether they are put up originally as particularly bad examples but the warning should suffice to put off the unwary. K x

“I’m truly sorry people have found them distressing, I was hoping it might reassure people that their own scars/dog ears weren’t too bad”

Indeed. It helped me to understand that my dog ear isn’t too bad in the scheme of things. It’s prolly getting revised/removed in 3 months or so if I desire.
I desire!

From the galleries, it seemed very clear to me that the best surgical results came from young skin with lots of collagen in it. Older saggier skin seems to be more difficult to obtain flat results from. I’m past the first flush of youth but thankfully, apart from the doggy behind my shoulder, my scar is very neat and tidy apart from a slight dip where my PortaCath used to sit.