Node clearance - slow progress post-op

I had full node clearance in late July and wonder if it is “normal” that the wound area and the underside of the arm above my elbow still feels so numb and bulky.
Although the axilla is still very dark & unsightly, the scar has healed; why is it that although it looks “normal”, the wider area still feels so peculiar and as if it doesn’t belong to me? I am still doing the post-op exercises! Will it always feel like this?

I had my node clearance done end October 2006 and was very lucky in that I had some feeling back about 3 months later. However, I know ladies who still have a lot of numbness 2 years on. It all depends on how much nerve damage there was post surgery - everyone is different as we have different numbers of nodes and it varies from patient to patient where they are lying. I still have some numbness under the armpit, but it seems to come and go.

I was discharged from oncology over a month ago and asked about all the stabbing pains I get which are a hangover from node clearance and also the rads I had. The onc explained that the cut nerve endings try to find each other again, but they end up touching ends with the wrong ones hence all the stabbing, pins and needles, numbness etc. She explained it takes a long time for things to repair.

Hope this helps.

Hi Topsymo

I had mast and partial clearance in Dec 07 and then had full node clearance just 2 weeks ago.

Even after my partial clearance in Dec, my underarm and I would say at least 1/2 way down to my elbow (down the tricep) was numb. Its caused by nerve damage and if the nerves have been cut its very unlikely that feeling will return. It is an odd feeling right enough. My underarm is still very swollen, but I spose I can expect that at only 2 weeks after - hope it goes down tho!!

Hope this helps

By the way - if the nerves are just damaged - it take 1mm per day for them to repair. My daughter had nerve damage to her leg a couple of years ago - the damage was about mid thigh in the Feb, and it took till the Oct for her to fully recover - it made sense when I measure her leg!!


I’m 7 months post op. Only started to get feeling back after about 4 months and I’m still getting little twinges… it’s deep tissue there and there will have been a fair bit of nerve damage from what I’ve been told.

Deep tissue takes a lot longer than the surface stuff, it heals in reverse really which makes sense as there’s no point the body healing what’s underneath if the top is still vulnerable.

It’ll get there though.


Thanks for all those helpful comments- I think it would all have been a lot easier if “someone” had explained that this is how it would feel for a LONG time afterwards. I am not due to see my surgeon again until Aug 09 - so who is one supposed to ask in the meantime?!

I had masectomy and full node clearance in December 2006 and` I still feel as though that part of me doesn’t belong to me. I have numbness but then get stabbing pains every so often. hope this helps love Eileen