Tightness in back after LD flap

I had my mx and immediate reconstruction in August. Lymph nodes were all clear, therefore, no treatment. Brilliant!! My concern is the tightness in the back after op. I’m religiously doing advised exercises 3 times a day. Is there anybody out there who have been through the same. Can you give me some indication as to how long the tight rope feeling will last. I know there’s a long recovery period of 12 to 18 months, but very frustrated. I can’t swim, so that eliminates that exercise. Help please if you can!! Kathy x

Hi Kathy

In addition to the support and shared experiences you will soon have here please feel free to call our helpliners as they may be able to put you in touch with someone who has had similar problems via our ‘One to One support service’, you can read more here:


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Take care


Hi Kathy

I had the LD flap nearly two years ago and, yes, it does take a long time to recover.

I have full range of movement, but it still feels a bit tight if I stretch forward with that arm. Do keep doing the exercises and go for slow long stretches - to get even more of an effect, take a deep breath in and out at the end of each one. Also do some gentle self massage using the flat of your hand - that will help loosen up any scar tissue - you’ve had a bit of muscle removed so y9u are bound to have some.

If you do feel that you aren’t making any progress, ask to have an appointment with a physio to be assessed and put back on track.

Be gentle with yourself - it’s early days yet and it does get better.


Hi Kathy, just to echo what D has said - she and I had our surgery at a similar time.

I was told to do some of the stretches every day for life - ideally in the shower or just after I get out as the warm water helps warm up the muscles ready for exercise. Mostly I do the ‘walking up the wall’ one, extending the stretch with breating, and holding for a count of 20… it seems to help. I also moisturise and massage all three scars every day as I was told that scar tissue likes to tighten up and massage helps prevent this. When the weather is cold and damp my back scar tightens quite a lot but again stretching helps ease it.

I have swum since my reconstruction - but my only strole is “gasping for breath breaststroke”, and I find it leaves my reconstruction rather stiff (probably if I did it more often it wouldn’t) but I know there are others on here who swim regularly with LD recons.

As D says, be gentle with yourself, you will get there.

Yes I stretch out my back scar every day too and massage it a bit. I do it immediately after my morning shower. I had my LD flap nearly three years ago. I also stretch out my shoulder which would otherwise get stiff - and this is from my mx nearly six years ago.
I swim regularly - always have - and never have any problems.

Thank you so much all you lovely ladies that replied to my post so quickly!!! They are Lucy BCC, DJ007, RevCat, RoadRunner. It’s so encouraging to receive your notes. I used to go to water aerobics before my op, maybe as I can’t swim, I should return to this hobby. I too had noticed a big difference recently when it’s been very cold. Again, such a comfort to know this is the norm. I enjoy gardening, will I be able to enjoy digging etc again do you think? What about lifting … is this a no… no for life please?
Kathy x

Hi Kathy

My hobby is horses and I muck out and lift hay bales as I did before. I try and make sure that most of the strain is taken on my ‘good’ side and I don’t taks such big forkfuls as I used to.

My main concern is preventing lymphoedema as I had a full node clearance. I you just had a SNB, or just a few nodes removed, your risk will be lower and so you won’t need to protect that side as much.

I wouldn’t now take up rock climbing, rowing or weightlifting, but otherwise I would have a go at most things within reason!