Urgent advice please ladies!

Hi everyone.

My partner had a mastectomy and just two nodes removed, eleven days ago. She has been very well ever since. Her drain was removed once the flow had almost stopped. Since then her ex-boob(!) has been slowly swelling so that it now looks like a proper one! (Apart from the scar!)

Other than the swelling, which is very even, there are no signs of infection (ex-nurse here) except that it is slightly warmer than her remaining breast. She remains perfectly well and upbeat. She did point out the swelling to the practice nurse yesterday, when her steristrips were removed, however the ‘nurse’ (grrrr!!!) barely looked at it and said, “Just tell them when you see them at your follow-up”. Well, that’s not until next Wednesday!

So, advice please lovely ladies. Like so many of you we are totally snowbound, so need to know what to do! Help!

Thank you :slight_smile:

Hi Sassie

Whilst you await replies you may find the BCC publication ‘Your operation and recovery’ helpful to read as it contains information about possible problems after breast surgery:

breastcancercare.org.uk/healthcare-professionals/publications/treatment-and-side-effects/*/changeTemplate/PublicationDisplay/publicationId/100/

Best wishes
Lucy

Hi there
Although I didn’t have a drain, I managed to get a really bad infection because I didn’t get it checked out as quickly as I should have done, I have been on antibiotics ever since (now just about gone).

Can never be too careful, I was in such pain eventually, it hurt to have any clothes on it, and it has put back my post-op recovery hugely.

Phone your BCN and see what she says, my practice nurse (lovely as she is) just didn’t have sufficient experience to make the call.

If it’s nothing, at least your mind will be at rest.

Hope this helps

SJ xx

It sounds like a seroma - the fluid still building up but no drain for it to go into.

The breast care nurses should have given you some info as to what to do - but going on what I was told, I’d phone them today if the fluid build up is at all uncomfortable, so that she can have it aspirated. I know my bcns aren’t around at the weekend, so if it wasn’t a Friday, it would be a wait til Monday - A&E is fine in an emergency, but the staff there aren’t as used to dealing with seromas as the breast care nurses are.

The practice nurses, in my experience, want to do as little as possible! Mine were supposed to remove my drain once the 24hr fluid output was less than 30ml… but none of them wanted to and told me I should wait until my hospital appointment… (fortunately only a day or so after the drain could have come out anyway). As your partner is in no pain, and there is no sign of infection, the practice nurse would be very inclined to leave well alone.

Call the breast care nurse for advice - though if you are so snowbound that you can’t get in to the hospital… not sure what they’ll say! If nothing else, they might be able to get hold of the district nurse and ask her to aspirate the fluid - I’m sure she must know how to?

Sophie xx

Thanks Sophie. We’ve just re-read the info given out by the hospital, which seems to suggest that the swelling is normal unless there is discomfort or signs of infection. In fact, it even suggests wearing a soft bra day and night to support the swelling!

Hmm… how to decide if it needs attention or is completely normal?

Re a seroma, I thought they tended to be hard and in one area, rather than soft and generalised?

Please don’t think I’m discounting your advice, for which I’m very grateful. It’s just that (a) I can see it and you, obviously, can’t! (b) I don’t want her messed about with further if this is just a natural phenomenon that will resolve itself in time and (c) she has osteoporosis so I don’t want her trying to walk to the docs (car is snowbound and no public transport or taxis running) on our incredibly icy roads and pavements.

Aargh!

I agree that it does sound like a possible seroma. I had that after my surgery and it wasn’t hard as such and not sore either just uncomfortable with a feeling of pressure. It can be possible to see or feel the fluid moving by lying on your side. When a lot of fluid fills up it will appear harder to touch.
I had mine aspirated quite a few times about 5 or 6 in total but I never developed an infection and never had anti biotics. It was always slightly warmer because it had warm serous fluid in there.

There are different schools of thought. Some doctors/nurses think its best to leave it to reabsorb naturally. Others like my surgeon prefer to drain. The main thing is how your partner feels with it there.

I suppose the other possibility which is perhaps less likely is a haematoma and even less likely without other symptoms an infection.

My practice nurse had no specialist knowledge of BC nor my GP. I found that you need to go straight to the BCN or the surgeon on this type of thing.

Sometimes being an ex nurse isn’t that helpful (I’m one too). I found I kept weighing things up not wanting to be a nuisance instead of just getting someone to look at it. Due to the snow problem, if its difficult to get out where you are then I’d ring the BCN or the helpline here and get some expert advice. Then try to see BCN or surgeon as soon as your partner can.

take care, Elinda

I agree with other comments you really need to ring her BCC even if it means she can be seen sooner in clinic .It sounds like a seroma to me but obviously without seeing it its difficult .I also had a rogue stitch which became swollen and slightly red and swollen after my drain was removed it started to look worse and that is what they found ,so it really needs to be looked at before it gets any worse.Obviously there will be some normal swelling and bruising after her surgery but if as you say it is looking like another breast that seems quite excessive to me . The BCN can also come out to the house if you’re having problems getting there or you could ask for transport to take her to hospital and back.xJulie

Hi everyone. Thanks so much for the advice. We phoned the bcn who said that it sounds okay at the moment, as there is no redness, pain, or general feeling of illness. She also pointed out that there will be no help available over the weekend! (Not sure how we are supposed to respond to that!) So, the plan is to call on Monday if things are no better.

Erm… I think I feel a bit better now… maybe :-#

I had a similar thing happen to me and while trying to decide whether or not to phone bcn she phoned me. Advice was to wear a sports bra during the day and to lie down for a nap in the afternoon which would help the fluid to be reabsorb, but if it got hot and painful to phone in. 2 days later the swelling had gone down which included the underarm tennis ball one as well.
Hope your oh feels better soon.

Thanks Alicats - that’s a great reassurance. And what a good excuse for an afternoon nap!

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Update: snow more or less gone, and the ‘non-boob’ as we are affectionately calling it(!), is starting to go down.

Thank you so much for your responses.

Sass xx

Hi Sass

That’s fantastic news

SJ xx

Thanks for this thread, MX and ANC 29th Nov and developed a tennis ball under my arm,just had a sleepless night as my last drain came out two days ago and yesterday the Mx scar was filling with fluid too by the end of the day.
Am getting very depressed with the whole thing, so will try the sports bra/afternoon nap route and keep fingers crossed.

Presume you keep the softie in the bra to keep the pressure on?? P x