Piercings post partial lymph node removal

Hi! I am approximately 10 months post treatment (chemo & immuno, lumpectomy and partial lymph node removal, radio). Due to having 4 lymph nodes removed, I have been advised not to have any injections or tattoos on this side of my body due to the risk of infection and subsequent lymphodema. Would the same advice also apply to ear piercings? Many thanks in advance.

Hello ckaye

Thanks for your post asking if it’s safe to have ear piercings due to your previous breast cancer treatment and wanting to reduce the risk of lymphoedema.

People who have had a sentinel lymph node biopsy only, have a reduced risk of developing lymphoedema compared to people who have had a number of lymph nodes removed.

There’s also no strong evidence that having injections, taking blood, taking a blood pressure reading or having intravenous fluids in your ‘at risk’ arm will cause lymphoedema. This includes tattoos and body piercings. However, you may prefer to avoid the affected arm. Ear piercing would be safe.

Speak to your healthcare professional if you’re worried about having any of these procedures on your affected side.

We offer a range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer which you may be interested in. They include face to face and online courses and events.

For more details about all of these services, please see the information on the link.

Do call our helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. The helpline team have time to listen, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information if necessary. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

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Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

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