Change in breast post-lymph node dissection surgery

Dobermom Member Posts: 40
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
OK, somewhat personal question time. I had a complete lymph node dissection of the lymph nodes under my right arm on 1 September. The lymph nodes were removed due to recurrent malignant melanoma, not breast cancer, so in that respect my right breast is only incidentally involved.

I just had a PET scan - the results were NED, so I'm not concerned about any tumors in that area causing my symptoms.

The incision site has healed nicely, I've gotten back some sensation. All the healing seems to be right on track. However, my right breast is "different" now when compared to the left breast. It is is larger than it was pre-surgery, the tissue feels more dense/heavy, and the nipple feels different. When doing a SBE, when I squeeze the nipple (checking for discharge - there isn't any), it feels "thick" compared to the left nipple. Honestly, it makes me think there is something in the milk ducts that has thickened to the consistency of sludge. But like I said, there is no nipple discharge - and I am not now/nor have I ever been pregnant.

Has anyone else noticed changes such as these post-lymph node surgery? Could this be lymphedema in my breast? If so, what do I do about it?

Thank you so much for your help!

God Bless,


  • New Flower
    New Flower Member Posts: 4,294
    You need to see breast surgeon
    Hi and welcome.
    You need to see specialists. I think you should start from breast surgeon,
    Breast surgeon will coordinate your care and rule out cancer and lymphedema as well.
    Good luck
  • sgamtd
    sgamtd Member Posts: 124
    post lymphnode dissection
    Dear Dobermom
    I did have a brest tumor removed, and 4 lymphmodes, am also currently NED.
    The way my surgeon explained the lympnode system to me was:
    Anytime lymphnodes are removed there is going to be a problem for the part of the body that used to drain into the now missing lympnodes, some fluid will probably collect in your breast at times while your body is trying to repair/find a new path/way to do it's job.
    My breast feels exactly the same way you are describing yours feel, so I would venture to guess it's fluid retention or mild lymphedema. I would call for appt. with surgeon to find out for sure, and the surgeon should be able to refer you to a lymphedema specialist if that is your problem. Good luck to you.
  • mlmjt1
    mlmjt1 Member Posts: 537
    Hi Dobermom
    Yes you can have lymphedema in the breast. I had 21 nodes removed with my mastectomy on the right side and had alot of lymphedema in the breast. My obgyn thought it was infection and tried to treat it with antibiotics and my plastic surgeon scoffed it off saying it was lymphedema and needed massage. So I was taught lymphedema massage by an ot and still do it daily.

    Ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist or a physical therapist who knows how to do the massage. I would definitely recommend it.

    Linda T