Sore skin after surgery

Hi, I’m new here and haven’t posted before so I’m feeling a bit anxious.

I was diagnosed on 1st December 2023 and I had surgery on 2nd January (11 days ago)

I had a wide local excision and sentinel lymph node biopsy.

The pain following surgery is improving but the skin around the area and down the inside of my arm is so sore! I’ve tried to read up about it and I’ve read that it’s due to nerve damage from the surgery.

I just wondered if anyone had any advice and if you had the same. I would speak to my BC nurse but as it’s the weekend she won’t be working.

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I had my op on the 20th December and have the same thing. I still have some swelling from a small seroma which was drained but has puffed up again a little. I think some of it is caused by this and my armpit not being it’s normal size. But yes it feels like nerve damage on the inside of my arm. I am seeing doctor again on Monday but definitely think time will heal.


Welcome to the forum . It’s very common to have more discomfort from the sentinel node scar than from the breast , you have a lot more nerve endings there and the position of the scar means when you move your arm you stretch it , plus it’s a damp airless place! You can have fluid build up (seroma) also putting pressure on the scar like ginger24 has said .I’m sure your BCN will re-assure you .If you are concerned there’s any infection eg the redness starts spreading or you feel unwell you could call 111 to be seen by an out of hours doctor .


The lymph node biopsy was taken from the same incision as the lump removal as the lump was quite close to my armpit. But as I understand it, they had to disturb a lot of nerves to get to the lymph nodes.
I will speak to my nurse on Monday.
Thank you

Thank you for your reply. I hope you are feeling more comfortable soon

You too!

I have exactly the same feelings after my lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy on 19th December.
I’ve found keeping in taking regular paracetamol plus a tiny bit of codeine helps (the over the counter one) and as soft bra and clothes as possible. The other game changer for me has been a cooled gel pack on the area in the evenings when it’s at its worse. I did try pregabelin to try and damp down the nerve pain but the side effects were just too much for me to be able to take it regularly.
Sadly I believe this kind of pain after breast surgery can take many months or years to improve or resolve.

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I honestly could have written your post myself! I had surgery on the same day as you with a sentinel node biopsy taken via one of my lumpectomy incisions.

I really wasn’t prepared for the pain / swelling / soreness / burning / numbness around the whole of my armpit area (as there are no incisions in that area). I was so worried last week that I called in to see a nurse in the breast unit and she assured me that everything is completely normal and such pain is very typical after surgery. Apparently I should keep taking paracetamol and ibuprofen and it will gradually get better.

Good luck with it, it sounds like we need to be patient (although getting it checked out will hopefully give you peace of mind). All the best for your journey x

I discovered a really informative piece about it on my hospital website, that no one had directed me to !!!
Theres diagrams online too explaining which nerves serve which bits of the axilla and which are most likely to get damaged.
I reckon mines damage to the intercostal brachial nerve.
:pray: It recovers with time, but my research says months and years rather days and weeks :sob:

Oh wow that’s a coincidence! I definitely agree with the not being prepared for the level of pain!
I have an appointment with a nurse at my GP surgery tomorrow to get it checked. It’s now looking very red around where the steri strips are and I’m wondering if they need to come off now. I don’t think it’s infected, just feels irritated.

That’s interesting. Yes I was thinking it’s a long term thing :pensive:

Thank you. I will definitely try the cool pack

I took my steristrips off on day 10. I’m a nurse and midwife and have never ever seen steristrips left on past 10 days !!
I wish my breast care nurse had been more honest and detailed about the pain and nerve sensation, so much easier to cope with things if you’re prepared !!!

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@dolly-diva22 would you mind reporting back what the nurse tells you tomorrow please? Hopefully it will also help my state of mind too! I have an appointment for my dressings to be changed on Wednesday. Just for information, I’ve read mixed advice about using cold packs… whilst they can help to reduce swelling, apparently they can also slow healing (something to do with reducing the blood flow to an area?) so I’ve been too scared to try one!

@Vibby please can I ask whether your incisions looked to be healed after 10 days? I haven’t removed my dressings yet but my boob still feels very sore. Thank you :blush:

Yep. Well healed, the incision from the lumpectomy is almost painless, went for an under boob incision. It’s where they’ve dissected the tumour (upper outer quadrant) that’s so painful and swollen. Plus the numbness/burning from the nerve pain.
I wouldn’t be concerned re using a cold pack from 10 days onwards, primary healing has already taken place and it’s not cold enough to constrict blood vessels and reduce healing xx

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Yes of course

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Hello ladies
I’ve just read your conversation about sore armpits. I had a mastectomy last September with slnb. Like all of you I experienced sore/numb/burning sensations and for a couple of days it felt like I was clutching a square box in my armpit. I wondered if it would ever stop hurting.
The good news is, it started to ease noticeably after about 5 weeks.
In the meantime keep taking paracetamol if it’s too painful, and I found a soft squishy cushion shoved in my armpit eased the pain.
Don’t forget the arm exercises. You will get there, even if it seems a long way off at the moment x

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I’ve seen the nurse at my GP surgery this morning. She took off the steri strips. All looks like it’s healing well but the skin around it is very red and sore so I’ve got antibiotics just to be on the safe side. The scar looks much better than I was expecting!

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@dolly-diva22 that sounds like very positive news! Thanks for letting us know x