What will I look like post WLE?

My surgery date is a set for 7th June. I had chemo first (4 FEC) and my tumour has gone, so I have been offered the choice between a WLE and a masectomy. I was still offered the mastectomy in view of my age, stage and grade of tumour. I am almost 100% sure I would like a WLE first, and then will go for mastectomy if we do not get decent margins.

I am small breasted, and they are very soft as I only finished breastfeeding 3 mths ago when I was diagnosed. I think I am a 32C now. I have noticed that my affected side has already lifted a bit - my nipples are not level anymore - I assume due to scar tissue from the tumour shrinking on chemo.

I have been told I will get contour changes and some deformity, especially since they need to resect a bit of underlying muscle. But what I am wondering is how much?? No real answer I guess - varies from person to person.

My BC nurse said I may not like the appearance after and that if that is the case either lipofilling or implants will be an option.

Just wondered - are others happy with that they saw after a WLE? What will I see? I just want to be mentally prepared as best I can.

I’m having a axillary node clearance as well - but my surgeon said she will do it all with one incision.

Gulp. I’m pretty nervous I must say - although my BC nurse said if I can laugh and cope with chemo then I will be just fine.

Hi Manny

It really does depend a lot on where the lump is and its size. Mine was 2.5 cms and on the outside of the nipple near my arm. I’m quite large breasted. The scar area is quite hard, and has tightened up, pulling the nipple out to the side a little, and that breast is smaller than the other now. It is noticeable, but without any doubt at all I would choose a WLE over a mx any day - the surgery is so much more straightforward. I have to say the look of it doesn’t bother me at all - but I’m in my 50’s and my days of topless sunbathing are long over!

I hope it goes well for you whatever you decide.

finty xx

Hi Manny,

Mine is much the same as Flinty, lump was at about 1 o clock in left breast & i now have a smaller breast with slight puckering & nipple pulled towards left but hopefully no cancer left in it & in the words of my 10 year old "it doesnt matter what it looks like as you shouldnt be showing it to anyone anyway " :slight_smile: bless him.


Hi Manny

I had WLE with first diagnosis, and my boobs were a bit wonky with a dent to the touch but not in appearance. Over time, the dent filled in with scar tissue and I don’t think the difference was noticeable - basically I was very happy with the result.

Second time round I had to have a mx and, I have to say, a WLE with deformity is preferable by far to having only one breast. If it’s an option, I’d go for it.

I see you were diagnosed while bf. I was diagnosed with a recurrence while pregnant. Agree with what you say about awareness and I’ll have a think about what might help. Really hope you and babe are doing well. xxx

Hi Manny
My tumour was 1.9 cm, I had a WLE then further surgery to improve margins and like you worried about what the results would look like. Yes, we’re dealing with a life-threatening disease, but body image is such an important part of who we are that I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be concerned.

The surgeon did a great job and the difference between my breasts is so small you have to look hard to see it. The scars are the only giveaway so with clothes on there’s no difference.

Not everyone has this experience of surgery but I hope this is reassuring.

Lilac x

Hi Manny

I also had a WLE in fact an MX not even suggested. I am older at 51 & didn’t need chemo.

My first WLE was wire guided as I had no lump just a suspicious area shown on a mammo. This was then confirmed as DCIS area involved was 13mm but no clear margins. Scar was very neat on left boob at about 12.00 o’clock to 3.00 o’clock. I needed a second op also a WLE and clear margins obtained. Whole area 2.5cm.

Scar very neat & already fading my second op was on 16/11/10. I do have a small dent along scar line; after first op this was a little lumpy due to scar tissue; but after second this was removed and now really soft.

Like you I’m a C cup but size 34. So a little bigger but not by much. Hubby was fine; I don’t notice it through clothes; indeed even with nothing on it doesn’t leap out at you now all healed up as my Radiotherapy finished in March.

Good luck with what you decide, this must be a very worrying time for you. Personally, I think there is no going back after a MX, but you can always have one if WLE doesn’t give the result you hope for. I’d discuss this with your surgeon or BCN. Most surgeon’s have photo’s of thier operations for both WLE’s & MX could you have a look at them to give you an idea to what the result MAY look like.

I got impression from my surgeon that they offer a WLE if they consider the cosmetic result will be Ok through clothes.

Take care

Hi Manny,

There is a UK site called bresdex that has been set up with the intent of helping women to think through the WLE or mastectomy choice. It isn’t perfect, a bit simplistic in fact, not least because although you can do some rudimentary weighing up of the facts you can’t weight them if one is more important to you than another. There are also photos of different surgery options (although I think none of the WLEs are youngish women) if you want to look at them. The site is endorsed by respectable clinicians and also has video clips of women talking about making their decisions.

My personal experience was a WLE for a fairly small tumour and the scar is now very neat plus a bit of a dent. It was my larger side anyway so that helps counter the loss on that side.

Good luck with your choice.



I am slightly different, as had WLE followed by reconstruction, however just wanted to say about scars. As my tumour was toward the armpit, they removed the tumour and the lymph nodes (only 4) via an incision which runs up my armpit, this means that the only scars on my breast are from the biopsy. As your surgeon said there would only be 1 incision, then it would hopefully be the same for you.

I can’t really comment on the shape of the breast after the WLE as I had a temporary implant followed by reconstruction using skin from my back.


Hi I had a WLE and 5 lymph nodes removed on my left breast in December, my lump was 2 cm. A have been really pleased with the outcome. I have got a slight dent where the lump and margins were taken from and my nipple does seem to point to the left, but as for the scars they have healed up very well. I started using bio-oil as soon as the wound was healed enough and it has really helped, I would recommend you use it twice a day. My scar is lovely and soft and light in colour. I am going to keep using the oil regularly and hopefully it will improve the appearance even more.

Hope it goes well for you too

Emma x

Thank-you ladies. My tumour is towards the armpit as well (or it was - it has gone!). My surgeon wil resect the area around the tiny metal coil so I’m not really sure how much tissue I will lose - but as it is in the thin ‘tail’ part of the breast I do expect an indent at the very least.

I am really pleased that most of you are happy with the appearance though. That is very reassuring.

I need radiotherapy so no option for immediate reconstruction - even if I opted for the mastectomy they still think it would be sensible to irradiate the chest wall.

But I am more than happy to fix the cancer first - I just do feel like I need to be prepared for what I will see if that makes sense??

Hi Manny,
I had WLE in Jan for DCIS in the area above the nipple - it turned out to be much larger than they thought and I had a 3" scar and lost about 1/4 of my c cup. It didn’t look bad, and I think most people are lopsided anyway! Initially I had a lot of swelling, and the affected breast was about 2 x bigger than the other one for a while. I did look as though I’d had a boob lifted on one side too, as I’m 49 and they were starting to droop…anyway, I ended up having mx in march because it was a 6cm area and went for bilateral owing to risk/family hx. I’ve got no problems now and despite thinking I’d be devastated by the mx, I’m fine about it. I think waiting and thinking about recon carefully is a sensible plan - my first thought was that I could have an immediate recon but the bcn talked me out of it - they do fail so you can’t rely totally on that option. I’m very glad I didn’t do it, I don’t want recon at all now.
One other thing is that Bio Oil seems to do a fantastic job in making scars look and feel better. It’s worked for me.
Lots of luck with your surgery,
Lynne xx