Skin tightness after surgery

Is it normal for the skin across my chest to feel like it’s stretched really tightly. I am 3 weeks post mastectomy surgery and it feels as if I have a tight band across the surgical wound, especially when doing post surgery exercises. 

Hi ZiggyStar  

Thank you for posting.  

Immediately after surgery for breast cancer and in the weeks that follow, it’s common to feel tightness around the chest after a mastectomy. You mention you feel this especially when doing the post surgery exercises. The exercises will help to stretch the muscles and scar to hopefully make it more comfortable long term. Sometimes taking pain relief around half an hour before starting the exercises can make them easier.  

Scar tissue forms around a wound as part of the body’s natural healing process and the tightening you describe often improves within a few months of surgery. As your operation was recent, these changes are not unusual. However, it is possible for scars to feel hard and lumpy for many years after surgery which is why regular gentle massage can be of help particularly if a scar feels tight and uncomfortable. Your treatment team should be able to tell you when you can start moisturising your scars.    

Talking to someone who has had a similar experience can be helpful and our Someone Like Me service can match you with a trained volunteer who’s had a similar experience to you. They’ll be a phone call or email away to answer your questions, offer support or simply listen.   

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Best wishes  

Grete   

Breast Care Nurse   

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