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Topic: Radiation issues along mastectomy scar

Forum: Breast Reconstruction —

Talk with others facing decisions about whether or not to have breast reconstruction, and if so, what type and when.

Posted on: Jun 14, 2021 06:42AM

Amiles5211 wrote:

I finished radiation a few weeks ago and was expecting to complete reconstruction later this fall. I still have my expanders in. After rads, my breast became more red and I had some peeling that turned into a couple of open/scabbed wounds near my scar. My plastic surgeon is saying I may need to remove expanders and restart the reconstruction process over once my skin heals. Has anyone experienced this? Did you have any other options or try anything to get the skin to heal?

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Jun 14, 2021 06:52PM flashlight wrote:

This is an excerpt from a post a RO wrote on radiation burns: Radiation wounds are not "damaged" skin, per se, as much as they are "missing" skin- let me explain- radiation causes skin to fail to reproduce properly, and thus as you "use up" your normal skin, like we all do all day, there are no new layers of skin coming up from the bottom. So eventually the area can ulcerate. This might look like a thermal burn, but it has very little in common with a thermal burn, and the treatments for thermal burns will not help much.

Let me be clear- many skin reactions don't need, nor will they find benefit from a 100 dollars worth of potions and lotions from the herbal medicine shop. You expect me to say that because I'm a doctor. Perhaps some will stop listening to me now because I don't think that a plant from the middle of the jungle ground up and slathered on your skin will fix the problem (why would it?). But, allow me to also say- most skin reactions don't need, nor will they benefit from 100 dollars worth of laboratory chemicals stuffed into a brand name prescription from the pharmacy.

Now, keep in mind, I said herbal potions and laboratory chemicals won't heal the wound much faster- I didn't say they wouldn't sooth the area and ease your suffering while your body repaired the damage. That they are very good at. For a grade I skin reaction, a good non-alcohol containing aloe is about as good as anything that costs a hundred times of much, in my opinion. I would rather a patient use aloe, but there are also some lidocaine containing topical medications that are helpful if they insist. Colloidal silver (a very natural medication for the record, despite being sold at the pharmacy) can inhibit the growth of bacteria, although it may not cure an active infection. Infection in general is actually not that common in radiation wounds- but it can happen and should be treated when it does.

Rarely, radiation wounds do need more assertive supportive care. I'm truly very sorry that you had to experience such a situation. Keep in mind, you don't have to clear or remove dead skin from a radiation wound like you might from a thermal burn- at least not aggressively. The problem is missing skin, not damaged skin, or at least that is the more logical way to model the situation.

Missing skin can't be healed with an herb, or a medication, and missing skin sure as heck can't be scrubbed at until it isn't missing anymore. Missing skin, for the most part, needs to wait until the body grows more skin. That can take 2-4 weeks for very mild reactions, to several months for serious radiation injuries. Make sure your medical professional has training and certification in these issues, keep in close contact with them, and ask them in no uncertain terms for a timeline that you can use in your healing expectations.

Then, if your body does not respond on that timeline- ask them why, ask them if something is wrong, ask and then ask, and then ask some more, until your doctor explains what is going on with your body to your satisfaction. You have that right, and you also have that responsibility. Very few physicians, and far fewer patients, are qualified to give advice on radiation wounds. Find support and comfort on the internet- but find advice on the cause and cure for radiation damage to human tissues by consulting a board certified Radiation Oncologist- one that cares about your case, and takes the time to explain things to you.

Hope this might help. Have you talked to your RO? Good luck!


Dx 11/15/2018, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Dx DCIS, Left, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes Radiation Therapy Whole-breast Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Lumpectomy: Left

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