Seroma or not

Hi there. I’m 9 days post ALND and cavity shave surgery. The cavity shave has left my breast looking misshapen and the nipple is facing towards the left. I guess this may resolve when swelling goes down?

There is a swelling above the wound for the ALND which is quite prominent and extends around the underarm and into the area just above my breast. It isnt huge but it is hard and tender. I don’t hear sloshing. Is this just swelling from surgery or could it be a seroma? It is sore and uncomfortable but I’m managing. Thank you

Hi bluesatsuma

Thank you for posting.

You may find it reassuring to hear that it’s normal to have some swelling after having surgery to remove the lymph nodes. It’s not uncommon for swelling to cause the breast and nipple to look different at this stage especially if the swelling is extensive.

Some people may have swelling and be able to feel a build-up of fluid under the skin. This is called a seroma. This is normal and the body will probably reabsorb this over time.

However, occasionally blood collects in the tissues around the wound and can cause pain, swelling and the area can feel hard like you’ve described. This is called a haematoma. A haematoma normally goes away on its own, but it can take a few months.

If you’re concerned the swelling is getting worse/spreading, or you think you may have an infection, it’s important to let your breast care nurse or treatment team know. If necessary, they can arrange an appointment for you to get checked out.

You say that you’re managing but if you haven’t already done so, you can try pain relief to help with the discomfort. Some people also find wearing a light support bra or bra top can help. Our information here about what bra to wear post surgery may be a useful read.

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, or call our free helpline.

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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