Skincare after Mastectomy & SLNB

I am looking for some guidance on skincare for the scar and also areas surrounding that which remain rather tight and numb. My Mastectomy & SLNB was just over 6 weeks ago, and so far I have only been keeping the area clean with my regular body wash. 

I am wondering whether there is anything I can and should be doing (e.g. massage) or applying (e.g. bio oil or moisturiser etc…) to help with improving the tightness and numb sensations as well as perhaps the scar line. Appreciate any advice or references I can look at to understand what the recommended steps are and the associated timeframe for them. I have never really applied a moisturiser to my breasts before surgery, but have applied one to my underarm. 

I am due to have Axilla clearance surgery in about 10 days time, so not sure if that affects the guidance for the above either.

One additional question regarding other exercises such as yoga. Is it now alright for me to recommence yoga  6 weeks post-op after my Mastectomy+SLNB? I’m thinking of starting before the next axilla surgery as yoga helped me before my previous surgery - but not sure if there is any reason I shouldn’t. Is there any guidance on how long you should wait post-surgery?

Appreciate any advice.

Hi TDG  

Thanks for posting.  

The after effects following breast surgery varies from person to person and can include the formation ofscar tissue and sensation change in that area. It’s understandable that you want to find out if there is anything you can do to ease tightness and numb sensations.  

Scar tissue forms around a wound as part of the body’s natural healing process and the symptoms you describe often improve within a few months of surgery, so 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. There is no specific technique other than gentle circular movements with the pads of your fingers along the scar.   When to start massage depends on the initial wound healing and any pain and swelling.  Your treatment team should be able to tell you when you can start moisturising your scars to help them heal.   

People often ask what type of cream they should use to moisturise the scar area.   

The type you use will not have a direct effect on your scar but massaging moisturiser into the scar will keep it from becoming dry and helps to make it supple.  Many people use simple moisturizing creams or oils such as the bio-oil that you mentioned.  Scars, especially new ones, are sun sensitive so remember to use sunscreen with a high SPF, for protection when out in the sun.  

As you are having further surgery to your axilla in 10 days time, you may want to check if its ok to start now or to wait until your wound has healed after your  next surgery. 

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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Breast Care Nurse   

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