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My skin burns after mastectomy...is that normal?

GenieM27's picture
GenieM27
Posts: 30
Joined: Dec 2009

I had my bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction (expanders) 2 weeks ago. My skin around my breast and under arms is so sensitive. It feels like a really bad sunburn. My cloths hurt to the touch. It's funny because it still feels numb too. Is this normal? Someone please help!

Thanks so much,
Genie

Ritzy's picture
Ritzy
Posts: 4384
Joined: Aug 2009

Hi Genie! I had a lumpectomy, so, I don't know if what you are feeling is normal.

I would suggest that you call your plastic surgeon and tell him about this to see what he has to say. He would have the answers for you, I hope.

And, I am sure that the women here that have had a mastectomy will offer what they can on their experience too.

Good luck to you and let us know what you find out.

Sue :)

Jean 0609's picture
Jean 0609
Posts: 2369
Joined: Jun 2010

I had a mastectomy with expanders and had 13 lymph nodes removed. However, I don't remember my skin burning and it didn't hurt to the touch. I was sore and remember using baby powder with corn starch under my arm because I felt my skin sticking together. I would call your doctor. When in doubt, I always called. Hope this subsides. Keep us posted. Hugs, Jean

VickiSam's picture
VickiSam
Posts: 8507
Joined: Aug 2009

Yes, my skin burn - I felt numb and my expanders didn't fit correctly - it felt like my right tissue expander was under my arm the major of the time. Muscles, nerves and tissue have been tugged, pulled, cutted and stitched during our mact-my so it stands to reason that our bodies are trying to heal themselves -- I guess that is why we are restricted for a few weeks, and given pain medication.

Please call you PS .. perhaps you are doing too much ..

Let us know, the outcome.

Vicki Sam

jo jo's picture
jo jo
Posts: 1175
Joined: Jun 2010

I had the same surgery as you did and it felt numb but at the same time if i touched it it would have a feeling of a tingle sensation that hurt...hard to describe. I can see how others might describe it as a burning feeling too. But for me clothing wasnt really a problem but everything else was.
My doctor said and also like Vickisam said they cut all that muscle and nerves and veins and when they are tryin to heal you may experience some really weird sensations.
Later i started getting pains like someone jabbing me with a needle, she said this was good my nerve endings and all those little viens are waking up.
But do bring this to your doctors attention.

GenieM27's picture
GenieM27
Posts: 30
Joined: Dec 2009

I have a call into my surgeon and plastic surgeon, of course they are both in surgery. I was told I would be getting a call from both of them this afternoon. I was just wondering if anyone else had the same problem. Thanks for your reponses.

lovs2decorate
Posts: 44
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Genie,

I had a bi-lateral mast. w/ transflap on 4/30. I also had the same skin sensitivity as you have described. The only type of bra that didn't make the area under my breasts crazy was a sports bra. I still have the sensitivity but not to the degree as it was. Still in sports bras as well.

I also had the numbness. I still have it on the side of my breast where the tumor was, under my arm and on the back of my upper arm.

Hugs to you! Hope your recovery is peacefull.

Justine

m-star's picture
m-star
Posts: 444
Joined: Apr 2010

This is pretty normal, as the breast tissue is removed using a cauterising 'knife' and the tissue is being sealed as its cut to prevent bleeding.

I felt like i had severe sunburn on my chest for a few wks after surgery. My friend even had a couple of burn spots on the outside of her skin where it had come through.

If you are worried then speak to your PS but i know this is normal for many women. Cold drinks may also feel funny when you swallow them due to the inside of your chest being burned and sensitive.

GenieM27's picture
GenieM27
Posts: 30
Joined: Dec 2009

that others have had this same problem. I do have a call into both my surgeons to see what they say. I was hoping it wouldn't last too long. I think my recovery would be better if I didn't have this problem. I'm having a problem finding something comfortable to wear. Thanks so much for all the posts I really appreciate it! Hugs and Love to you all!

Menda
Posts: 128
Joined: Jun 2010

Sounds like I had the same surgery yet, my skin is very dry. Not necessarily the surgery site but every where else. Lotion helps. Any idea what causes that ? Just curious?

hoop77's picture
hoop77
Posts: 84
Joined: May 2010

Hello Genie,

I had the same problem and is was unbearable!!! I couldn't stand for anything to touch my skin, even wind from the blow dryer hurt!! My oncologist prescribed Gabapentin (Neurontin) for me and it has helped tremendously. It's a miracle drug. It didn't take all of the burning away, but enough so I could wear clothes semi comfortably. I wore tight fitting sports bras and camis (from Walmart) to get me through this and I continue to wear tight fitting clothes because even though the burning is gone, the tingling sensation when something brushes against my skin still drives me crazy. Please ask your doctors about this drug as I know how awful the pain was for me. It does get better with time, but i'm not sure I could have made it without the meds. Hope you get some relief soon!
Love,
Laura

cahjah75's picture
cahjah75
Posts: 2623
Joined: Jun 2010

on June 22 2010. I am 5 weeks post op tomorrow and I still occasionally feel the nerve twinges and the "heat". I had a hard time explaining numbness at the same time as a deep ache. Like you, it's nice to talk to someone who really understands where you're coming from. My surgeon put a compression bra on and I still wear it to bed or if I'm hanging around the house otherwise I have a very soft camisole to wear. So far, clothes haven't really bothered me but it's so nice to lounge around in my cotton nightie:) It does get better. Do you have stitches??? I had 60 steri strips covering self dissolving stitches, and only a third have fallen off. I don't know how long the numbness lasts. I see my surgeon tomorrow and I still have a few questions.
Char

shaggy420's picture
shaggy420
Posts: 28
Joined: May 2010

Well I saw this and had to let you know that after my surgery- which I had the Bi-lateral Mastec with expanders done on 6-10-2010. I have had the burning sensation along with the pulling and sensitivity. My PS said that it is normal to have this. Plus my left expander was not put in correctly or it has moved after the surgery. I am not able to wear any bra just a muscle shirt under all my shirts. But I do have problems sleeping and trying to lay on my sides. But then again it can be a problem laying on my back for a long period of time. but I take pain meds and anti-anxiety meds after my expander fills. That seems to help some what.

Good luck. Anything I can help with please get with me.

Brenda

Heatherbelle's picture
Heatherbelle
Posts: 1224
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Genie - i had same surgery 11 days ago and feel the same. Skin is itchy/burny (kinda like that feeling when you're coming down with the flu, and your whole body & skin just hurts -only worse!). My armpits really hurt too. I'm having to wear really loose fitting tops or sundresses. Either we're both normal, or both messed up!!! I just had surgery to have my port put in today though & both my surgeon & my plastic surgeon who I saw a few days ago said everything looks fine. I think the stinking/burning might be something to do with the nerves in the area? I'm no doctor, but in my humble opinion I think we're both gonna be just fine!
*hugs*
Heather

GenieM27's picture
GenieM27
Posts: 30
Joined: Dec 2009

So glad to hear this feedback. Thanks so much for helping through this journey. When I spoke to my PS yesterday, he said the buring was normal. However, not everyone has that feeling.

I have appointment today with my PS. They supposely are taking out my drains today. I just took a pain pill, because I'm a little scared. I've heard it doesn't really hurt that much, but I'm such a baby.

Hugs to you all!
Genie :)

June Rose
Posts: 4
Joined: Feb 2012

Hi Genie
You must be well over your mastectomy now, and I hope you are well and have it all behind you now. I just wanted to ask you how long it took for those awful burning, tingling painful sensations to go. I had my bilateral mastectomy three weeks ago, and had expanders put it. I'm so uncomfortable and by the end of the day have really had enough of it all. I'm on Panadol as other painkillers play havoc with my stomach. Hope you get this and will be able to answer. Thanks, June (NZ)

cinnamonsmile
Posts: 1059
Joined: Dec 2010

Hi June, first of all, I think you need to talk to your breast surgeon who removed your breasts and your plastice surgeon. I did not have recontruction with my bmx, but I did have those sensations. Did you have any sentinel or lymph nodes removed? If so, those sensations sound like nerve damage. I had and still have them so bad. I get numbness, tingling, electrical zaps, burning, feeling like I was beat with a baseball bat across my chest, my armpits, the backs of my upper arms and around my back a bit from the shoulders to the bottom of the rib cage. It is so bad sometimes my clothing feels like razors, air condition on my arm backs in the car feels like a blow torch, it can be numb but at the same time feel horrible pain. At one point last summer I ran screaming from the house to get Brian becuase I felt like I was being stung by a bee in my shirt. There was never any sign of it. Just a couple weeks ago, I had that feeling again. This time, being winter, I knew it was not a bee, but my stupid nerves playing havoc.Those are just a few of my examples.

I was told that this is called post mastectomy pain syndrome. I have had it since the moment I woke from surgery for the bmx with node dissection on 1/11/11. If it is nerve damage, there is no way to know exactly when it will get better. Every heals differently, nerves regenerate at their own timeline. My left side has improved over the year, but the right side and chest and back area seem to be stubborn.

From what I have read, reconstruction for some can be hard and painful in and of itself. That is where the plastic surgeon should know about your pain. However, from reading on breastcancer.org, the majority of plastic surgeons (most, not all)ignore patient's pain from the breast and node removal. That is where,hopefully, the plastic surgeon can help with your nerve damage pain.

I have been seeing a team of pain management specialists since July of 2011 who do wonders.

There are other medications that work for post mastecomy pain.

Please talk to both your surgeons about your pain. There are things that can be done.

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