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How much does surgical scar tissue change over the years?

island_gal Member Posts: 3
edited February 12 in Not Diagnosed But Worried

I cannot find my previous posts, but I was here in 2018 when I had a Birads 5 mass. My physician and radiologists told me to prepare for a cancer diagnosis. I had two benign core biopsies which were discordant, a normal breast MRI and finally an exicisional biopsy / lumpectomy at the end of 2018. The diagnosis was "Hypoglandular fibrous breast tissue with usual ductal hyperplasia and unremarkable calcifications." I have 2 inch surgical scar.

At the end of 2021, I had a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound because of pain & discomfort in the lumpectomy breast. It was diagnosed as Fibrocystic changes. I didn't receive a copy of the report, but the details shared with me did not mention anything about scar tissue from my 2018 surgery. It did, however, recommend that I could follow the normal screening schedule of 2 years since I was nearing 40.

At the end of 2023, I began to experience increased pain & discomfort in the same breast. It was time for a screening mammogram but I instead visited my doctor for a clinical exam due to the pain. The lumps she felt were extremely painful to the touch and we both assumed cysts. She also noted there was no glandular swelling in my armpit. Still, we both agreed on a diagnostic mammo and US.

I had a mammogram, then ultrasound, then another mammogram with skin markers and spot compression. They found a 16x8x7 mm mass that is more solid than the others with indistinct margins at 2:30. My previous mass was at 3:00. Apparently the radiologist noted "potential post surgical changes" aka scar tissue as a possible cause but I still have to have a biopsy. I did not ask for a copy of the report or Birads score because of the anxiety lingering from 2018.

Has anyone here had a surgical procedure that caused changes throughout the years? I am concerned because this mass was not noted on my images from 2021, 3 years after my lumpectomy.


  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,685

    Hi @island_gal and welcome back. If you share with us your previous username (or email address you used to create the account, via PM), we'll try and track down your account and can help you get access, if you'd like.

    Also, do you know when your biopsy will be? Sending you good thoughts while you wait for answers.

    —The Mods

  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 769

    Hi @island_gal , I had a lumpectomy with sentinel node biopsy followed by radiation and an accidental thermal burn. I have had breast pain for three years now caused by nerves encased in scar tissue. It has changed over time but never disappeared. Acupuncture lessened the brachial plexus pain and reduced the swelling which helped some. PT helped a bit as does gabapentin at night. I later developed intercostal nerve pain for which I eventually received a nerve block with steroids. This has currently stopped the rib pain when I breathe but not the nerve pain in my breast. Doctors have told me that slow nerve regrowth and tissue changes can take place for many years in some people and it's not surprising in my case since I had three types of injury.

    Since tissue remodeling can go one for years it is possible that could be causing your lumps and pain. Also, radiologists don't necessarily comment on findings that don't appear concerning. It's good you are having a biopsy to check out the imaging results. If things are benign there are treatments for pain. Also, you can still get copies of your imaging reports and CDs of the scans by requesting them from wherever they were performed. I had to provide those from another hospital to the pain management department that treated me. I hope all works out well.

  • island_gal
    island_gal Member Posts: 3

    @moderators, thank you! I'm now quite certain I deleted my past posts because of too many identifying details 😅. I had to have the biopsy request resent to the hospital because they didn't receive it the first time, so I am unsure of when I will be scheduled. I read news reports of people waiting up to 12 weeks just last year so I'm hoping they've made it through the backlog by now.

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,685

    No problem, @island_gal! Totally understandable. It's easy to share too many personally identifying details when you're stressed out and looking for support. We're glad that we're able to support you again!

    12 weeks is a long time to stay in limbo. Fingers crossed that it does not take that long!

  • island_gal
    island_gal Member Posts: 3

    Hi @maggie15,

    thank you for sharing your experience and I'm glad you've been able to get at least some pain relief!

    The Radiologist who reviewed my images is the same Rad who reviewed them in '21 and also did one of my previous biopsies. I feel somewhat encouraged by her and my doctor's feedback that the lesion could simply be scar tissue, but I assumed that scar tissue would lessen / improve over time and wouldn't produce such a change that would cause a new suspicious finding in 2 years.