• I have this huge blob of skin hanging at my side under my arm where the lymph nodes were removed. It swells and gets harder and harder thru

    Asked by mom3b1g1969 on Wednesday, May 30, 2012

    I have this huge blob of skin hanging at my side under my arm where the lymph nodes were removed. It swells and gets harder and harder thru

    the day. It gets quite painful by evening. The surgeon says that I can have it fixed at a later date but right now it is limiting my shoulder and arm ROM. I am doing my best with the exercises and I do better in the morning than with the evening set. I just feel like something isn't right. Like why is this area so huge?? And my chest muscle....it gets tighter and tighter as the day goes on so that by evening it is also painful. I am taking ibuprofen every 6 hours and it doesn't seem to be helping the swelling or the pain. The only thing that seems to make any difference is laying down / sleeping at night. Has anyone experienced this?? What did you do??

    6 Answers from the Community

    6 answers
    • leepenn's Avatar

      i felt like i had a large lump of skin under my arm pit after as well. and, i did get a bit of a seroma (fluid) there, which made it feel bigger. and, it was numb, which oddly made it feel even bigger! so, it was like a trifecta of uckiness.

      i also had axilliary web syndrome - also called cording. there are a few studies on this syndrome, and for some women, it seems to affect range of motion pretty dramatically. it feels like guitar strings running from the bottom of your arm pit to about half way up your upper arm (if it's extended up). anyway, i ended up a subject in a graduate student's dissertation work at the U of MN... and i learned a bit about it. turns out, they don't really understand it... but it does go away within a few months.

      the good news is that now the lumpy part is flat, and the numbness is abating. i know it will never actually go completely away because of the sentinel node biopsy, but it is getting smaller and i am getting used to it. and the seroma is completely gone.

      i have two puffy bits on either side of my sternum, and i will likely have a revision to flatten those out. the surgeon who did my mastectomies said it is recommended to wait about six months before doing a revision. everything changes so much in those first few months...

      overall, everything gets flatter and smoother with each passing month. i had my surgery in feb, and i feel like everything is doing super well.

      so... keep moving - that will help with range of motion and pain and fluid... if the evening set is harder, what if you break it into two smaller sets? and long duration low load is the way to go on stretching... that means hold a very light stretch for a long time. if you feel better in bed, can you do a few of those exercises in bed perhaps?

      and keep talking to your health care team for sure! also, many women go to physical therapy after a mastectomy - the physical therapists have a great suite of exercises that help improve things....

      good luck. virtual hug.

      over 4 years ago
    • mom3b1g1969's Avatar

      Thank you so much Lee. I feel better knowing that things will get smoother and flatten out. I also have a puffy bit at the sternum and was wondering about that. I go tomorrow to be fitted with a prosthesis and was actually wondering if I should wait longer becuz of these issues. We'll see what she says when I get there. Some days I am wishing that I had decided on the bilateral and now wouldn't have to worry about having the one breast stick out like a sore thumb (since I'm a D cup) or having anxieties that I am having about using the prosthesis.

      I like your advice about holding the lighter stretch for longer. Seems like that makes more sense and would do more good than the possibility of over stretching and injuring parts. And I do see my surgeon again next Thursday so I will talk to him about it again if it is still an issue then -- hopefully it won't be ;)

      over 4 years ago
    • jamrck's Avatar

      A certified massage therapist who works with cancer patients can also help work out the cording and swelling. Ask your doctor for a referral or you might check with your local American Cancer Society.

      over 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      I've found out that there are all kinds of things that can crop up post surgery. The good news is that most of them seem to be minor annoyances more than significant medical issues. I have 2 types of blobs. One type is a soft blob in a couple of places just below and just to the right of my left armpit that the surgeon says is excess skin. He says they may or may not flatten out over time and, if they don't, they can be removed at a later date if I chose to do so. Those of us whose breast were more heavily endowed are more likely to have the excess skin blobs. The others are harder lumps along the scar lines, one under my right armpit, and the other on the left side of my abdomen where a flap was removed to cover the extensive wound on the right side of my chest. These are fluid pockets and can be drained through a needle. One has been drained and has refilled, the other is smaller and has not.

      None of these have been painful or have hampered my range of motion, but they can be a bit irritating at times due to rubbing against clothing or other skin. I also had the tightness all around the scar lines (I had a bilateral mastectomy, plus plastic surgery to remove a section of skin and tissue from my abdomen and reattach it to the left side of my chest, so I have a lot of scar lines). This is a completely normal part of the healing process.

      over 4 years ago
    • JenS's Avatar

      Although my symptoms are somewhat different, I have had underarm swelling and discomfort following mastectomies and sentinel lymph note removal. Once I had a large area at the back of my upper arm that felt like a knotted muscle, but it was fluid build up. Lymphatic massage made that go away in less than an hour.

      I found that physical therapy with a person skilled in lymphatic massage very helpful. There are special massage tools and methods that can help with drainage.

      They taught me to lightly massage the area just above the collar bone, halfway between the sternum and the shoulder. There is a lymph valve there that can get blocked. A little massage there helps to keep the fluids moving.

      over 4 years ago
    • Alicejane's Avatar

      I had bilateral mastectomy in mid August 2012 with rolled up excessive skin under one arm (left side) and what looks like a small boob protruding out on my left side. My surgeon told me he had to leave the excessive skin to make sure he had enough to staple me up! Well, he had plenty but when he was finished, he left it. When I complained, he suggested that I have cosmetic surgery (in otherwords, get someone else to finish his work). That wasn't easy to find but I found a great surgeon who has operated on me once since and final surgery will be in February to correct the first surgeon's work. The first surgeon also told me and a lot of them are telling other women to see a plastic surgeon. I contacted 8 in my area and was told, "we don't do that kind of surgery." It is also a myth that in 6 months the excessive skin will shrink. They tell you that to put you off. Yes, I'm suing my bilateral mastectomy surgeon, you bet I am - I will have had 3 surgeries where it should have been one. Get yourself a lawyer. Don't let them get away with this.

      almost 4 years ago

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