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All TopicsForum: High Risk for Breast Cancer → Topic: When to expect any sensation after Mastectomy?

Topic: When to expect any sensation after Mastectomy?

Forum: High Risk for Breast Cancer — Due to family history, genetics, or other factors.

Posted on: Mar 24, 2010 06:55PM

travelgal6979 wrote:

Hi.  I had a bi-lateral mastectomy on Feb 3.  I knew when I had the surgery that loss of sensation was part of the surgery and actually didn't expect to get any sensation back ever.  I was just told by a doctor yesterday (not a breast surgeon or plastic surgeon) that some feeling/sensation may return after time.  She said that it may take a long time because nerves are slow to regenerate.  My question:  is this true and has anyone experienced a return of feeling/sensation in their breast area?  If so, how long was it?  Thank you.

Diane Dx 12/3/2009, ILC, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 25, 2010 09:47AM lvtwoqlt wrote:

I had my bilat surgery with implants done June 2007, as of now I have very little sensation in the  center of my breast. Although when I was 11 I had major spine surgery and my back was numb for several years (feeling the same as my boobs now), gradually I did regain the sensation in my back where I could feel when something touched my back rather than a dull feeling when I was touched there. I don't know exactly how long it took but it was years.


Women are like tea bags, we don't know how strong we are until we were thrown into hot water. Eleanore Roosevelt Diagnosed ADH Feb 2005, ADH Sept 2006 Surgery 2/12/2005 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 9/10/2006 Lumpectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2006 Dx 4/27/2007, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes Surgery 6/1/2007 Mastectomy: Left, Right
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Mar 25, 2010 10:46PM - edited Mar 25, 2010 10:48PM by badger

Hi travelgal, I had a bmx without recon on Feb. 2, the day before you.  Other than right along the mast incisions, I have full sensation in my chest.  The "zaps" of nerves growing back had been tapering off and come to think of it, they've stopped!  Couldn't tell you exactly when but it's been a week or so now.  Hope you're feeling better and better every day!  

6,523.5 miles walked ~ Find your calm. Move forward from this place. Dx 12/22/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 1, 1/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 26, 2010 01:52AM ailenroc wrote:

My guess is that there is much individual variation and variation by procedure and surgeon. I was very scared that mx would leave me sensationless. I had read a lot of horror stories: that women could not even feel if they burned their post-mx reconstructed breasts. That was not the case for me; I had decent sensation in almost all areas after bilateral mx from the beginning and now, 1.5 years later I have near normal sensation in most areas; the little bit of areola that is left has original sensation. I wish I had done a nipple sparing mx - may have retained perfect sensation there. I had requested that the intercostbrachial nerve would not be cut - I don't know if that made a difference. The area that is the least sensated is the area around the SNB site and the upper interior arm has dull skin sensation.

Oncotype score: 1; BRCA neg; bilat bc & bilat mx w recon; Dx 5/30/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 26, 2010 02:57AM - edited Mar 26, 2010 02:58AM by Kate0574

HEllo, I had my mast in 2007 and still no feeling, I have just a tingly feeling over the whole area, I just had my permanent inplant put in last week.... veyt excited, my dr said everyone is different when it comes to this.... I had all lymph nodes removed, I have no feeling under my arm, armpit or breast... it sucks but you do get used to it... take care!!

Dx 3/9/2007, DCIS, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 3/16 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 26, 2010 09:20AM travelgal6979 wrote:

Thanks everyone for your replies.  I have no sensation whatsoever.  I haven't had any sharp nerve pain since the surgery, "zaps", so I don't know if that means the nerves aren't regenerating.  I sure do hope that I get some feeling back. 

 Right now, it feels like my breast area has been completely shot up w/ novacaine.  Oh well, it is what it is.  I knew that this was a possiblity.  As long as I got rid of the cancer, that's all that matters. :-)

Diane Dx 12/3/2009, ILC, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 26, 2010 04:30PM Beesie wrote:

The question of whether or not sensation returns is an interesting one.  Clearly this is different for everyone.  Some women get back a lot of sensation, some get back a little, some get back none.  Personally I have quite a bit of sensitivity on the skin of my breast.  Of course, since I don't have a real breast (I have an implant instead), there is no feeling in my breast.  Or at least, no real feeling. 

Something interesting that often isn't factored into this discussion are phantom sensations.  I've read that a high percentage (I think I've seen numbers in the range of 40% - 60%) of women who have mastectomies experience phantom sensations.  These feelings may be pleasurable or they may be painful.  I've had both.  I sometimes get sharp pains that feel like they are right inside my 'breast'.  Not pleasant at all.  When I'm cold, it often feels like my nipple is hardening.  That's definitely a phantom feeling, since I don't have a nipple (not even a reconstructed one).  I also get pleasurable sensations when my breast is stroked; I think those are a combination of real feeling (on the skin surface) and phantom sensations (within the breast).

Whether a feeling is real or phantom can be difficult to know, since the feeling is the same in either case.

Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage IA, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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Mar 26, 2010 04:33PM apple wrote:

i haven't had much sensation come back.. it's been about 18 months and i do feel things here and there now.. .. like a twinge.

it's odd isn't it?

peace and love, apple - ..... Mary Magdalen Dx 4/10/2008, IDC, 5cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 4/9 nodes, mets, ER+, HER2+
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Mar 26, 2010 04:41PM Jaimieh wrote:

I had some when my PS was trying to reclose my incision when my implant was exposed I has to be numbed. I could feel it and it was not a good feeling. My nerves are still regrowing as I can feel the burning from the nerves.

Dx 12/24/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Dx 3/25/2014, IDC, Stage I, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Mar 26, 2010 08:26PM Kayleigh3843 wrote:


I have more sensation than right after my mx (7/09) but certainly way less than before it.  I had a pedicle TRAM w/nipple/skin sparing so even some of my belly is numb.  At first it freaked me out, especially the breast -- it felt like a foreign object on my chest.  But for the most part now I am used to it.  I expect perhaps a little bit more sensation to come back, but not a significant amount. 

I've read that it can take as long as 2 years for whatever sensation you're going to end up to return.


Dx 4/27/2009, IDC, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 26, 2010 08:53PM - edited Mar 26, 2010 08:54PM by AStorm

I had my bmx in June with implants in January and new headlights last week (nipples and skin graft areolas). There are staples holding the dressing to them right now so I'm happy to have no sensation there. I have more sensation on the skin that actually covers the muscle but very little sensation where it is just my thin skin over the implant.

Gail “Friends are like bras: close to your heart and there for support.” Unknown
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Mar 26, 2010 10:06PM jezza wrote:

I am 18 years out. I have implants, I would say I have about 80% feeling back when my breasts are touched but no "sexual" feelings there.....zilch! I had nodes taken under one arm and it took years to get feeling back. Could never feel deoderant going on...or hot or cold. I would say I have 90% back under my arm but as I said it took quite a few years.I didn't expect to get it back really after that time.

I agree with other posters...we are all different but even if it has been some time...don't give up hope...it may still happen.


bi-lat mastectomies (one prophylactic) saline implants no chemo, no rads 21 years NED Dx 1/1992, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 3

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