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All TopicsForum: Surgery - Before, During, and After → Topic: Is scar tissue painful?

Topic: Is scar tissue painful?

Forum: Surgery - Before, During, and After — Surgical options and helpful tips for recovery and side effects.

Posted on: Feb 16, 2011 07:22AM

Jaydra wrote:

I had an excisional biopsy in August.. some duct tissue was removed so the scar runs along my areaola on my right breast.

After the surgery I had a lot of hardness.. I talked to the nurses on the phone from the surgeon's office who insisted the hardness was normal.. in December it was still fairly hard and sometimes painful so I saw the surgeon who said he wasn't concerned and it did indeed feel like scar tissue as it was also in the area where I had the surgery.

The area of hardness was fairly big back in August/September but now it's maybe the size of a golf ball maybe even smaller than that.

The last couple days it has been very painful.. I have an ultrasound booked for this morning.. I'm just wondering what's "normal".. you don't see a lot of talk online about what happens *after* surgery.

Has anyone else had pain at their surgery location? does the hardness ever go away? 

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Feb 16, 2011 08:10AM JBinOK wrote:


I had a left-breast lumpectomy/excisional biopsy 12/09, followed by radiation.  Even 12 months later it was painful, and I was still trying to just get hugged on my right side only.  The slightest bit of pressure to the left was painful.  It was the scar tissue, and the discomfort was just a result of how my particular body decided to heal.  Mine too was about golf ball sized 6 months after treatment.

I have a history of producing scar tissue very quickly, and ALOT of it, so that wasn't a surprise.  I did not want to go in and have it removed, because then I would have ended up with MORE scar tissue.

Turns out I had a recurrence in the same breast just 1 year after the first diagnosis, so I just had a double mastectomy last month.  

One thing for you to remember down the road:  mammograms cannot see through scar tissue.  If I had relied on my "everything appears normal" mammogram findings in November I would not have caught my recurrance.  I had pushed to get an MRI simply because I didn't like the word "appears."  Low and behold a very tiny new malignancy showed up on my MRI.

Don't know if this helps or not.  But please know that since you have scar tissue in that breast you must request an MRI in the future.  Most doctors won't automatically order it.  Your future mammograms will not be able to see through your scar tissue.

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Feb 16, 2011 12:21PM Jaydra wrote:

thank you so much for replying.. I'm not having much luck with this question.. thank you also for the advice, I wanted an MRI back when I was going through the initial stuff back in June-August.. wish I would've just had one! but they were so reluctant.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences 

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Feb 18, 2011 07:46PM mawhinney wrote:

Sometimes internal sutures take a long time to dissolve and can cause hard areas.  My so called quick dissolving sutures took almost 8 months to completely disappear! Bits and pieces of sutures even poked through my skin.

I also developed scar tissue and adhesions.  Just recently I had surgery to release the scar tissue as it was beginning to cause mild but constant arm pain.  My surgical onc noticed the cord like scar tissue when I put my arm over my head. When my arm was down the scar was not noticeable but could be felt. 

When I have a mammo or mri I always point out past incisions and biopsy sites.  Some testing centers have asked me to mark a drawing indicating surgical and biopsy areas.

Dx 5/18/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage Ib, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 18, 2011 08:06PM Connie07 wrote:

Thanks for asking. I have a couple of inches of scar tissue that has been painful every day since surgery. A recent mammo showed a lot more scarring than I expected, but nobody mentioned doing an MRI? Why not? If the radiologist can't see through the scar tissue and the whole purpose of a mammogram is to see through the breast then they should automatically recommend an MRI. Shouldn't they? For Christ's sake, isn't follow up supposed to follow up. this is so frustrating. No Doctor is any longer responsible for our whole-ness. I know I had read that a long time ago and asked for MRI and my BS, former BS, looked at me like I was crazy.

Turns out, we think SHE is crazy. sort of anyway. She gave me no options and turns out there should have been options in 2007. She didn't suggest any dietary revisions. She didn't mention side effects, specifically scar tissue and LE. Last year a cyst appeared. She aspirated it and the whole area flared red and warm. It's STILL red there. She knew it was a cyst and that the fluid was b9 but weeks later did a punch biopsy anyway (because it was red) and suggested I may have a "little" LE. but she did nothing about it. Now I find that early detection is key to controlling LE and that it is a non curable, lifelong side effect. I'm seeing a new BS on Tuesday and will ask for LE eval. And now, maybe an MRI instead of a mammo that shows blotchy white spaces.

I'm going on 4 years out and thought all this breast concern was behind me. Sadly, that's not the case. i wonder if it ever will.


12/09 Necrotic cyst in scar tissue. Punch Biopsy, NED. Sept. 2012, Lymphedema, truncal.

Dx 6/6/2007, DCIS, 5cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/0 nodes, ER+
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Feb 19, 2011 08:43AM Jaydra wrote:

Thanks for sharing your experiences as well.. I have done a lot of reading on this and have even found some older posts on the boards.. seems this is more common then I realized and I wonder why surgeons don't tell patients what to expect in regards to scar tissue etc so that we're not freaking out later.

My surgery was in August (fibrocystic and duct ectasia).. it was hard and painful for awhile.. some of the hardness went away and the pain shrunk to a mild discomfort especially during my period... so it shocked me to have pain again.. pain that was bringing me to tears!

According to the ultrasound it is scar tissue and there is a small build up of fluid around it which may be the beginning of an infection.. so I'm on some antibiotics now and guess we'll go from there.. a day and a half into the antibiotics, the pain is subsiding. 

I'm wondering if because it was duct ectasia (which is just another form of periductal mastitis apparently) if I will have these issues forever. I did quit smoking 17 days ago.. so hopefully that helps! 

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Feb 19, 2011 11:31AM JBinOK wrote:


If you get a referral on the LE, you might see if there is a physical therapist who specializes in lymphedema.  My breast surgeon refers all her patients to a lymphedema therapist PRIOR to surgery for instruction and exercises to help keep the lymphatic fluid moving.  At that time, the patients are also fitted for a compression sleeve to wear FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES when they (1) fly or (2) travel to areas of high elevation.  (This is so we patients, hopefully, avoid developing lymphedema in the first place.) 

Then after surgery, there is a follow-up with the same therapist to add to those exercises; in addition, we patients take monthly measurements to make sure we are on top of any swelling that may occur.  Like you said, once you develop lymphedema you will ALWAYS have lymphedema.  The key is prevention.

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Jan 7, 2013 08:17AM NaskarStar3 wrote:

Oh scar tissue. I had surgery on my foot and 2 days later fell on my crutches. The crutch impacted my left breast and it instantly grew, got hard and turned 3 shades of purple. Went to the hospital, they didn't do anything. 3 days later I'm at the breast surgeon's office, getting cut open and he squeezed my breast for 15 angonizing minutes while my husband stood there and watched. I've never endured anything so aggresive in my entire life. 200 cc's of blood was taken out of the lump that was the size of a softball. My breast turned black from all the blood pooling inside. I was still black and blue 6 months later. Then I had an ultrasound guided biopsy just to make sure. It was negative. Now, 1 year later, I have 2 scars, a lavender colored breast and lots of pain. I'm going to see another surgeon tomorrow because I refuse to see the other one. I was told by my Dr. that she's pretty sure it's scar tissue. We will see I guess. Oh and I can't wait for the day when I can wear a bra again! So to answer your question, YES scar tissue is painful.