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Axillary Node Dissection

Posts: 35
Joined: Jul 2012

I'm pretty sure this has been discussed 100,000 times, but I have a question. I have about a 4 or 5 inch incision under my arm from the dissection of my lymph nodes. It has been a couple of weeks since the procedure and the incision still feels like the skin is pulling even though visibly it is not. It isn't red, and I have a clean check-up from the surgeon. What does everyone put on the incision to prevent it from hurting so much? I have been doing the exercises, etc. FYI. Any tips that anyone can provide would be great. Thanks.


Posts: 2515
Joined: May 2009

I had a lumpectomy and 3 nodes taken at the same time....it sounds like you are just going through the healing phase....I was super glued for both incisions..good stuff...but I have to say the node incision bothered me more than the lumpectomy incision....it was very sensitive for a good 3 months...I think the skin is so very tender there and arm movements aggravate it.....but know it will get better.....and it maybe hurting due to the exercising your doing...did you have a lumpectomy or mastectomy? If it's hurting, do you have any pain meds you could use? don't know if I've helped or not...hope so.... My incision is only about about 2 1/2.inches long....

Keep us posted...we care and I wish you better days in this journey we call breast cancer...
Big hugs, Nancy

Posts: 35
Joined: Jul 2012

I had a lumpectomy and that particular incision is not causing any discomfort. It's just the annoying arm incision. I can't even put deoderant on unless it is with the grain of the incision because it feels like it is pulling on it. 3 months, huh? That'll be good times. Yes I am taking Norco for the pain (prescription) and I only have 1 more refill. Ibuprofin doesn't cut it.

Dwwilburn's picture
Posts: 19
Joined: May 2011

I remember it feeling weird to put on deodorant. I think I went deodorant free for awhile. I had mine done Nov 2010. I remember it just got better with time. I still have some numbness under my arm.

Megan M's picture
Megan M
Posts: 3001
Joined: Dec 2009

I don't even need deodorant because rads killed my sweat glands. I hope you feel better soon.

lynn1950's picture
Posts: 2574
Joined: Jun 2008

It's been four years and if I raise my arm, I still feel tightness from the node incision. It's a feeling that fades gradually (I certainly don't need Norco for it; I don't even think about it much). Your question sent me checking, and I'm reporting my observations from the field! The area is still numb. I think the nerve damage is probably permanent. You'll be healing and feeling better soon! xoxoxo Lynn

missrenee's picture
Posts: 2137
Joined: Apr 2010

and it's still tight, sometimes sore and I sometimes get stabbing pains through it. I had 23 nodes removed and it will probably be like this forever for me. Most times it doesn't bother me all that much--maybe I'm just getting used to the feeling. I do try to stretch it and use that arm, but I never carry heavy weight on that side, have B/P checks or needle sticks.

Again--one of the wonderful things we're left with.

Hugs, Renee

P.S. PT can help

Posts: 35
Joined: Jul 2012

23 NODES???? I had only 13 they grabbed from my "fat pocket". I read about 1st level, vs. 2nd level. I think they just grabbed the 1st level of my lymph nodes (which all were clear so they had no reason to go futher). 23 nodes for you sounds like they did everything but amputate your arm. I had no idea there were that many in my arm. Thank you all for the advice on my arm. It sucks either way. I'm a huge baby.....


SIROD's picture
Posts: 2199
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Tonia,

My first lymph node dissection was with the mastectomy many years ago. I had a lot of pain and I asked the surgeon why. They sometimes cut nerves and what you are feeling is probably nerve pain. It was over 6 weeks before I began to feel better. Don't despair.

Do you have pain medication? If you don't ask your surgeon for some as this will help a lot. In due time it should feel better. Keep doing the exercises, you don't want a frozen shoulder on top of all this.

I had a 2nd lymph node dissection removing the second level of lymph nodes along with a few from the third level. The first level was buried in scar tissue. I insisted the tumor be removed that grew in that area and that is why I had a second dissection. Would never recommend anyone do this a 2nd time around. I ended up with neuropathy in that area and now take another medication Gabapentin for it.

What you are feeling is probably normal. It does take time to heal. I know we all want it to just go away.

Best wishes to you,


Posts: 191
Joined: Jun 2012

Mine was 14 months ago. If I don't stretch my arms above my head enough, it feels stiff under my arm. I also have tenderness and soreness now and then. I went to PT months after my surgery which helped a lot for range of motion. Try to find one that specializes in lymphedema. I received a great education from mine.

It will get better over time.


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