Nearly 4 weeks post surgery

I had a wide local excision and axillary lymph node removal nearly 4 weeks ago. My surgeon was very neat & took the lump out through an incision around the aureola.
I had seroma in my boob (very disconcerting the first time I realised where the sloshing noises were coming from!), and that cleared up within a week or so and everything looked ok (apart from a little bruising).
However, the site of the tumour has shrunk down in a rather hard & lumpy way, and looks (to me anyway) fairly ugly. Is this normal? And I’m told radiotherapy has the effect of hardening the tissue, and I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like if it gets any harder & lumpier!
I’m going for my rads planning today so will ask there, but it would be really helpful to hear what others have experienced

I had WLE and axillary node clearance in Nov 08. Scars are very good, but a little thickened. I’ve just finished chemo and have radio planning tomorrow. I’ve been advised to massage cream (aqueous or something like E45 or even Bio oil) into the scars, quite deeply. Apparently this can help as I too have been advised that everything will firm up quite a bit during and after radio. I must admit I don’t like doing it - the massaging. I don’t really know why but it just makes me anxious, I guess worrying about if I feel anything else maybe? Swear I’ve gone a bit mental since all this happened. I know that they like the area being radiated to be moisturised before the radio sessions - they’ll give you all the info at the appt, I’m sure. Lots of luck, Pat x

Thanks Pat.
The radiologist said it all looked quite normal & to expect more changes over the next couple of months, so I feel a bit more reassured. And my rads start next Thursday. Crikey, everything is moving so fast!
I bought a tub of aqueous cream and some aloe vera gel today, so will start on the moisturising regime with a vengeance
Philidel x

I wish they’d give us a better idea of what to expect, what is the range of “normal.” I’m now six weeks post-op (WLE) and though the scar is fine my boob is still a bit swollen and red. I’m getting almost obsessive about checking it. It’s been seen by three BC nurses and the onc, who all just said it was OK - only my GP had any reservations, she gave me a course of antibiotics which I have just finished. Maybe I’m expecting too much for it getting back to normal - how long have other people taken?

Hi Susanne

Sorry to hear you’re still swollen and red. I can’t advise on your situation as I haven’t got to that point yet but I agree with you on the need for more info.It is mad really that some of the best advice and info we find is from each other on here!!

When I had my first FNA I was just waved off with no info on what to expect at all. The next day I had a huge right melon- and OUCH! No warning of this! No one could advise at the hospital as the Breast clinic was closed on Thurs. My GP thought I had inflammatory breast cancer until I explained the situation.An infection was then diagnosed.

After second biopsy I bled madly. Again no warning, just a tiny little sodden plaster.Off to doc’s again for a pressure dressing.

All a bit of a nuisance with two young children in tow!!

Hope the swelling eases soon.

Love Freddie xxxxxxxxxxxx

Hi

Also meant to say that I’ve read that wound swelling can take 4-6 weeks to go down- so Susanne- I guess you’re still in that time frame.

It does seem to have gone down a bit now - still reddish, but it might be because the swelling makes the bra-cup a bit tight. I keep nipping in the ladies at work and pulling up my top to check it - keeping a sharp ear open for anyone coming in and thinking I’m a bit weird! I even showed one of my friends - she thought it was just very slight.

Sorry to be obsessive about this, but it seems to be swelling up overnight and going down a bit during the day. I did wonder if I was maybe doing a bit too much, as we are trying to get the house ready to sell and I’ve been gardening and sewing, but I do try to pace myself. Anyway, I decided to get myself a sports-style bra to wear at night - one that doesn’t depend too much on gravity to keep the b*ggers in. This one looks like it was built by Harland and Wolfe! So, we shall see if that helps!

Hi Susanne

It sounds like you’re feeling quite worried about this, may I suggest you have a look at the BCC booklet on ‘your operation and recovery’ as it contains a section on what to expect after surgery and includes information on recovery times and possible post-operative problems following surgery.

If you would like a copy please go to the following link:-
breastcancercare.org.uk/upload/pdf/your_op_and_recovery_07_web_0.pdf

I hope you find this helpful.

Kind regards
Sam (BCC Facilitator)

I reached a point last night where I felt so depressed about the state of my boob. It’s as if a thread has been run around the peripherary of where the lump was removed and has been pulled tight. The skin over the top of that area is very puckered up and darkened, and the area feels hard and slightly tender. The nipple on that side is at least an inch higher than the other because of the tightening. I feel very ugly. One of the things that makes it feel worse is that everyone thinks I’m ok now because my path results were so good, and yet at this point I feel more miserable about it all than I have before.
Anyway I spoke to my BCN this morning & she says it does sometimes happen, but will loosen off in time (though the radiotherapy may make it harder for a while!). It’s a tightening of the fibrous breast tissue around the wound. In the meantime she suggested that I massage vitamin e oil or bio oil into the skin and that may help.
I guess I’ve just got to be patient.

I know just what you mean about the thread thing - sounds just like mine! My surgery was in Jan 2008, followed by a haematoma that at first I just thought was the mother of all bruises! Eventually, after all that healed I had radiotherapy in March/April 2008, which just added a few more colours to the spectrum and gave me a boob like a cannonball. I did get very anxious about the messy scar and hard, even lumpier area around it - it ‘pulled’ when I did anything with my arm for one thing, whereas the scar under my arm was flat and hardly noticeable. I religiously massaged the boob with aqueous cream night and morning without apparent improvement. Now I think it has finally started to soften up a bit after 15 months! My mammogram before Christmas was clear so I know it’s just scar tissue. I’ve got a gross pink rubbery thing to stick inside my bra as that boob is smaller than the other one now, but I lightened up a lot about that after I threw it at my husband one morning and it stuck to his head.

I’m not trying to make light of your feelings - I know how upsetting it is. I doubt I’ll ever have a neat, flat scar but I was unlucky and it does look neater than it did. It’s still very early days for you so hang in there and try and love your boob - it’s been through a lot but will resume normal service in time!

Thanks very much for the link, Sam. It’s reassuring to know this is all within normal bounds. I think part of it is a kind of denial that anything has actually happened - I want to be my “normal” self, and with a nice neat little scar and very little pain I can almost kid myself that’s true. It’s just the swelling that keeps reminding me. Of course, once I start chemo (next week) I will have to come out of denial - the sun glinting off my bald pate might be a bit of a clue!

Hi Susanne

I hope you are enjoying the Shropshire sunshine and getting out and about a bit. A good time to hope for some movement with the house I guess too.

Sorry to hear that you are still having a few post op problems. Nothing in this game seems to go smoothly does it?

Try to keep positive,

Love Freddie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Hi Freddie - it’s great, isn’t it? I’ve been cracking on with my garden, want it looking good for all the hundreds of eager buyers…! This swelling boob is really just a nuisance - it’s not painful or anything, and reading that it’s within normal bounds makes me feel a lot better about it. And it’s just seven sleeps to the start of chemo - seems weird to be excited about it, but it really does seem like a big step forward. Didn’t really feel that way about the op - I think I was still “tharn” at that point (readers of Watership Down will get the reference!)

And you’ve only got two sleeps to results day! Keeping my fingers crossed for you that you at last get some clear information - and good news.

Thanks for that, highball. I know I’m being impatient, but it’s also that mix of not knowing what the range of “normal” includes. The irony is that my scar is barely noticeable, being very neatly around the aureola. Just Sod’s Law that my body has decided not to co-operate with the neatness of my surgeon!
Anyway, I did chuckle at the thought of your hubby with a prosthesis stuk to his head :slight_smile:

I’ve just got back home after having been for another rads appointment. I also had a plaaning appointment for my booster treatment, only they abandoned that because the onc wasn’t happy with the “tethering”, as she described it. She took some photos, emailed my surgeon and has arranged an appointment for me to see him on Wednesday morning. She did make a remark about “going back in and sorting it out”!
To say I’m feeling crap is probably an understatement. I’m just trying to concentrate on the fact that at last someone is taking my niggles seriously and I was correct in thinking this is not entirely right

Hi

Not sure where to start as this is my first visit to the site and I’m looking for advice.
Everyone seems to experience so many of the same things and so many different things.
My Mom had two tumore removed and lymphectomy about 3 weeks ago and she was doing amazingly well both mentally and physically but now it all seems to have gone a bit askew although we are reassured it’s all normal.
She’s having about 300ml of fluid removed every two days and actually had a litre removed last Tuesday. She’s in agony and very uncomfortable and I wondered could anyone offer any advice other than the normal medical advice. She’s been wearing a braa to bed for support but I’m not sure if this is making her better or worse. It’s like a melon, hard as rock, very red and tender.
All suggestions welcome.

Crikey! Your poor mum, AAA. I had 100ml of fluid removed from my armpit & that seemed like a huge amount. My breast seroma didn’t get to the stage of needing draining and absorbed itself, so I’m afraid I can’t give any advice but I’m sure there will be others who can. The body takes a while to adjust to the change in the lymphatic system, but it will get there. I do hope it settles soon.

And an update on my scrunched-up boob -
I saw my surgeon on Wednesday morning, and apparently seromas sometimes heal in this way. The radiotherapy is hardening it as well, and it’s apparently more noticeable because I’m relatively small-breasted. I’m to continue with the rads as that’s the most important thing at the moment (hear, hear) but he wants to see me a couple of weeks after that’s finished. It may well start to soften & loosen by then, but he may “do something about it”. When I asked what that entailed, he said “I’ll have to think about it”, but basically it will mena going back in through the incision around the aureola and “loosening it”, Oh joy! Still, at least he wasn’t concerned and made me feel reassured. It’s just bad luck when the surgery had been so neat.
Oh, and he took yet more photos for his teaching. What with the daily stripping off in the rads room & the felt pen marking, I shall be whipping them out for everyone without thinking before long!