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Recovering from Mastectomy
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Recovering from Mastectomy

I had a bllateral mastectomy on June 24th.  .  My left side has an area of hardness below the surgery area.  This area was drained 2 times after the drains came out.  I asked my surgeon about it and was told that it is some fluid that will go away and it takes time for the healing process and it should go away in a few months.  I am having radiation and asked the radiation oncologist and he said that it is edema and could take 6 months to a year to go away.  I asked what happens if it doesn't and he said that surgery would be required to remove it.  I am being told that it takes a very long time to recover from mastectomy surgery even though you think and feel really good. Has anyone had this problem, and if so, how long did it take to go away?
Thanks for any input you can give me.
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2 Comments
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492898_tn?1222247198
I really think recovering from this type of surgery is not the same for all women, and varies greatly both for length of time, the problems you actually end up dealing with/not dealing with, and the quality of the surgeon's job.

Additionally, it helps to exercise the arm(s) early in the process. A PT (Physical Therapist) helped me a lot. (most)

I never had any real problems with fluid accommodation but this is common and  unpleasant,  from what I have heard.

In my experience it's also very common that everyone tells you something different, mostly because complications cannot be predicted.

I would also think but do not know this for sure, that a double mastectomy is a little worse and uncomfortable than a single one. It may matter if lymph-nodes were removed or not, but in my case the complete removal of all lymph-nodes only caused some temporary discomfort.

Some  type of swelling can come and go . the hardness around the scar is normal for a few months? Then it gets much better,

Katrin
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1119363_tn?1330359040
I had a single mastectomy Oct. 2009.  I had fluid drained at least 4 times due to a painful buidup.  As ar as recovery from mastectomy went, I felt it was incredibly quick and amazingly little pain.  However, you should know that I have a high pain tolerance.  The fluid buildup was hard and sore.  I had well over 300 cc's taken off the first time, over 100 the next two times and about 60 the last time.  

My surgeon told me that you want some fluid there because it will thicken and create a contoured shape rather than a sunken chest look.  I have the contour of a young girl, so I guess it did.  The fluid was no longer uncomfortable about 6-7 weeks after surgery.

I agree with katarina77 that exercise and a physical therapist and/or massage therapist can help a lot.  My chest wall muscles sometimes get very hard, (usually when stressed) and tight.  I talked to my therapist (PT) who suggested standing facing the corner of a room.  Lean towards the walls with one hand on each wall and do a few slow pushups against the corner walls.  It loosens the tightness without standing in public massaging my non-existant bosom (which was my other way to cope.)

For me, being active and getting back to daily activites helped my recovery.  I had chemo which made me very sick, but I have full use of both arms with only rare aches when I overdo.  (Last week, hand whipping 8 egg whites with a fork into meringue for lemon pie, for instance.  Use a mixer and you will enjoy the pie a lot more!  I work at a living history museum and cook 1840-1870 style most of the time.)

You are probably through most of the worst of the discomfort.  The swelling and fluid discomfort should begin to lessen soon.  I always find that my endurance and patience usually run out a couple of weeks before the discomfort is finally getting better.  Good luck and let us know what we can do to help you.

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