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Surgical problems

Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2003

I've undergone a lumpectomy with sentinel node biopsy on October 23; then ended up back in the hospital on October 24 due to a hematoma the size of my surgeon's hand. After that they kept having to remove fluid and finally I ended up with a staph infection and on IV antibiotics for two weeks. The path report then showed the margins were not satisfactory and a mastectomy was recommended especially since one of the lymph nodes was positive. I then had a mastectomy with reconstruction surgery--the TRAM procedure. While in the hospital within the second day, I had to have 4 blood transfusions, had pneumonia in both lungs and ARDS and an ileus. Basically at first they thought I wouldn't survive. After all that I am now having problems again with fluid buildup and the TRAM (breast) feels extremely hard. What I want to know is after a TRAM did you have fluid buildup and the breast feel extremely hard and painful. Following all of my earlier surgeries I needed no pain medication. I am in some pain now and don't understand why (two months later). Please anyone who has undergone this procedure write me and let me know of any problems they had. Thank you for your help.

Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2002

I'm sorry that you've had so many problems related to your treatment. I've had 3 surgeries since being diagnosed with high grade DCIS in Nov 2002. The first was a lumpectomy with sentinal node biopsy with no problems. Second was further lumpectomy due to not having clear margins and lymph node dissection because cancer was found in one of the sentinal lymph nodes. I developed a seroma (fluid) under my arm which persisted until the 3rd surgery. Still didn't have clear margins (rest of lymph nodes were clean) so I chose mastectomy with immediate reconstruction using the TRAM procedure. The 3rd surgery occurred on 1/22, I returned to work last week. The only post-surgical issue with the TRAM is that I developed two areas of fluid build up, one in the abdomen and one in the pelvic area. These are being drained twice a week until they go away. I had a small area (about 2 inches) of tissue hardness in the reconstructed breast along the bottom fold line. My doctor told me to massage it so it would soften. That seems to have worked. The remainder of the tissue is more firm than the healthy breast but is not "hard". I do not have pain in the reconstructed breast. I do have some discomfort across my abdomen and stomach, but this is expected for up to a year following surgery. What does your doctor say about the hardness and pain?

I don't know whether this will help you since I didn't encounter the types of problems you've had. I will add you to my prayers to receive full healing and relief from all of the problems. Hang tough... You've come through difficult times and are definitely a survivor!

Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2003

Thank you for your input. I am having the same fluid problems and they keep draining the areas. I go see the doctor again and hopefuly this time he will listen to me. He says to massage and I have done that. The area is so painful now and hard. They (over the phone) are now thinking there might be something else going on. The only soft area is the very center of my new breast. The entire outside is very, very hard and painful. I have an extremely high tolerance to pain and have had not used pain medication even after the surgery. This surprised the doctors. My goal is to finally go back to work. Thank you for just talking with me. I still have a hard time believing that this is not a nightmare.

Posts: 17
Joined: Feb 2003

Hi - I had the TRAM also. However, last year I had pain in the implant area and the implant had to be replaced because scar tissue had formed around it which is common I found out. Also, I would get a lot of spasm in that area. It is not as soft as the real breast but it is firmer but doesn't hurt now that the new one was put in.There has got to be a reason you are having so much pain especially since you have such a high tolerance. Let us know how you make out, okay?? Mary Ann

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