The process of mastectomy is a major assualt on the body and causes severe trauma to the neighboring structures within the chest wall to which the breast was attached (ie. muscles, fascia, rib and sternum bones). A number of vessels and nerves are also severed. My question is this: when major blood vessels are ligated and/or electrocauterized what happens to the remaining (stump?) left behind? Also, when one has a simple mastectomy with no node dissection, the lymphatic vessels leading from the breast to the level 1 lymph nodes are still severed. What then happens to those lymph nodes? Is it possible that the axillary nodes on the ipsilateral side respond to the trauma of the surgery by becoming and remaining enlarged? Would it be reasonable to expect that the very first group of nodes (lateral to and slightly behind the pectoral muscle) might become permanently hard (fibrosed?). If not lymph nodes, is it possible that severed blood vessels could give rise to firm painless masses in this area?
These are hypothetical questions, so there's no need to recommend asking the doctor. I realize these are questions best directed to a surgeon, but I thought I'd give it a shot. Thanks
Dear PG, Sorry for the delay in responding to your question. I did show your question to our surgical colleagues. Basically what I have been told is the information you have provided is not consistent with what actually happens with a mastectomy, and they would be uncomfortable answering the question as presented. I am wondering if there is something concerning you that you are trying to figure out, for instance, are you feeling a painless mass on your chest or at the site of the mastectomy scar? Sorry I could not find out a precise answer to your question.
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