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Topic: Mastectomy bulges under arms

Forum: Living Without Reconstruction After a Mastectomy — Discuss prostheses, swimsuits, bras, and other options for women not having reconstruction or waiting for reconstruction.

Posted on: Oct 24, 2009 02:50PM

BShoemaker wrote:

I have recently had my bi-lateral mastectomy and unfortunately have a large bulge, the size of a baseball almost under each arm.  I am heavy so the rolls under my arms are left where the breast ended.  This is a question for probably the heavier gals that also under went the same issue after their mastectomy without reconstruction and were left with these big bulges.  I am finding mine to be very uncomfortable and can't imagine wearing a bra with a prosthesis.  What did you do?  Did you see a plastic surgeon for revisions?  Did you try to lose weight?  Looking for any advice or answers on what your surgeons may have done to help the situation.

 Thanks!

Dx 5/19/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 1/4 nodes, ER-/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 2, 2017 02:05PM MTwoman wrote:

I wonder if my issue is different or similar. I like having a term for it (dog ears). My dog ear (right side only) results from the surgeons re-using the same scar site for my drains over and over. I ended up with an adhesion that has an ear hanging down over it. It is between my implant and underarm and I cannot wear certain sleeveless things (sun dresses cut a certain way or tank tops). It is annoying, and never resolved even after all these years. It hasn't really changed with weight loss or gain. Not really interested in having any "elective" surgery, but an in office procedure to clip the adhesion and remove any excess tissue/fat might be workable. Anyone have any experience with adhesions?

Dx 12/10/2002, DCIS, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 12/20/2002 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 12/23/2003 Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Surgery Reconstruction (right): Saline implant Surgery Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery Mastectomy: Right
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Mar 31, 2017 05:10PM Mariajoe312 wrote:

Drains and pain were horrifying

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Mar 31, 2017 10:02PM Mariangel43 wrote:

Hi, ladies, I had my right Mx last june and the bulge appeared for the first time. When I received my expanders the PS made another incision and left the bulge ear just as the BS had left it. I thought the PS would correct the weird thing on the implant surgery but NOTHING. I am still disgusted and feel deceived because I thought PSs looked for perfection and beauty and I found out they are not. I think this is a money business. The PS told me it would cost me a special price ($3000) to have my right mx corrected from size B to size C (by lipo) instead of making a correct breast reduction (left breast from C to B).

If you want something done, better check with the PS and make it clear with him/her that you want them out. Otherwise, they will follow you like the song says. Good luck to you all, recon or not!

Dx 5/4/2016, IDC, Right, 4cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 6/2/2016 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Apr 2, 2017 07:10AM - edited Apr 2, 2017 07:10AM by Erica

Mariangel43,

I'm sorry this happened to you. One thing I've learned since starting my non-profit website, BreastFree.org, and hearing from thousands of women: It's extremely important to be very clear with your surgeon about what you want to achieve. For those of us who choose not to have reconstruction, that means a smooth chest with no extra skin and (if a bilateral mastectomy) symmetrical incisions. And also request that the surgeon try not to leave dog ears (lumps at the end of incisions). Breast surgeons are sometimes not as expert as plastic surgeons at achieving excellent cosmetic results. If you're left with dog ears, a plastic surgeon can usually correct this with a procedure that's a minor, outpatient surgery.

In your case Mariangel, I would consult another plastic surgeon to see if you can get the reconstruction result you desire.


BreastFree.org (breastfree.org); BreastFree Blog (breastfree.blogspot.com); Twitter @BreastFree
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Oct 23, 2017 09:04AM Likea wrote:

I have the same problem , skin indentation and a lot of flab and Folds, it looks hideous. they do that on purpose so you can go back, so they can get your money. Before surgery I ask the doctor if any loose skin left, is there any way you could cut off? He said no, i would have to come back and have it removed. Which did not make since at all, why couldn't he done it then when i was under anesthesia anyway. Scam! Its a way to have you come back for the money.


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Oct 23, 2017 10:05AM MTwoman wrote:

Likea, I am sorry that you are having that experience! I would gently and respectfully disagree. I do NOT believe that is what my surgeons were doing. I believe that they were doing the best they could. My adhesion came from their efforts to leave me with fewer scars (hence using the same spot for my drain tube after each of my 5 surgeries). I trusted and still trust my surgeons. My BS actually came in on the only day he had scheduled off right before Christmas, his scheduler tried to stop him, but he was determined. He came in early and was with me during my nuclear med plotting of my sentinel node, when he didn't have to be. That was not because I was paying him, that was over and above what was expected of a BS.

And my PS worked to make sure that I wasn't going to get any additional bills, as my final surgery was at the end of the year. I had 2 years where I paid my max out of pocket to insurance (first surgery in Dec 2002 and last in Dec 2003). He included all the cost related to follow up appointments so I wouldn't get billed for anything from his office in the third calendar year - even though I had follow up appointments then.

I'm sure there are surgeons, like every other profession, that are 'in it for the money', but that has not been my experience and I want to be clear that not all surgeons should be lumped together in your negative assessment of them.

Dx 12/10/2002, DCIS, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 12/20/2002 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 12/23/2003 Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction Surgery Reconstruction (right): Saline implant Surgery Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery Mastectomy: Right
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Oct 24, 2017 06:38AM ravzari wrote:

^ Agreed.

I had dog ears at first as well, because my PS wanted to err on the side of caution and would rather have had to go in and remove extra skin/fat later than remove too much to start with and leave me with a longer healing time, potential for the incision sites popping open if I raised my arms too high, and leaving me with extra tight skin (especially when trying to reach overhead).

I did end up with two pretty big dog ears and extra fat on the front that they removed in a revision surgery. I have a little extra skin now, but nothing that looks abnormal (it looks more like a dude's chest than anything, complete with pecs since I've been working out the last few months, as most men don't have totally flat chests). When I asked her why, she asked me to raise my arms then see if I could pinch any extra skin, which I couldn't; it was taut when my arms were raised, and she said if she removed much more that I'd have difficulties raising my arms fully over my head or would end up with wider scars as they stretched to allow me to easily reach fully over head.


Some surgeons, even if you request flat, will still leave extra skin 'just in case' you change your mind to make reconstruction easier. While I understand doing that if a patient says she'll want delayed recon, surgeons who do it because they assume you'll change your mind kind of need to stop, especially since, even if their patient DOES change her mind, it's still possible to do reconstruction without having had extra skin left. It may take a little longer to get to the end result, but it's still a possibility.

Prophylactic BMX no recon, June 2016, due to strong family history of BC. NF1 positive.
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Oct 25, 2017 12:20AM Momine wrote:

Erica, my surgeon left small tufts of skin at the end of each scar near my sternum. Nothing awful, but weird-looking. He told me it was in case I wanted to reconstruct down the road, and that those tufts would help the PS "anchor" the recon. But he also told me that they should smooth out eventually and that if they didn't he would happily fix them. He turned out to be right, they did become smooth after about 6 months.

Dx 6/1/2011, ILC, 5cm, Stage IIIB, Grade 2, 7/23 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 6/19/2011 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Ellence (epirubicin), Fluorouracil (5-fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 9/12/2011 Mastectomy: Left, Right Radiation Therapy 1/8/2012 Surgery 3/7/2012 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 3/31/2012 Femara (letrozole)
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Nov 23, 2017 07:03PM Snickersmom wrote:

My surgeon told my husband and I before surgery that he always removes the dog ear flaps, which I didn't even know about! As for the extra little bulges, I do have some that my surgeon is going to smooth out. He said he always leaves the incisions loose instead of tight so that the skin doesn't pull. I will be having drains, and I'm not looking forward to that but it will be worth it to be more comfortable.

Dx 3/24/2017, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/3/2017 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 6/12/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jan 15, 2018 10:46AM Thea29 wrote:

I had a double mastectomy and immediate reconstruction..I too have small bulges. They said they could take care of them at the final surgery coming up for an extra cost... Apparently insurance doesn't cover that it's not my boob... I was like whatever I know others include this in the final revision. I guess the final outcome isn't important to my surgeon. So I will live with them. I am not spending another dime on CANCER! My deductible twice is enough!🙄

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Jan 15, 2018 02:07PM Snickersmom wrote:

I have Medicare plus a supplement and fortunately, all of my treatments, surgeries, etc. related to my BMX are covered. So I'll go ahead and have the surgery.

Sorry your insurance doesn't cover this. They certainly should!!

Dx 3/24/2017, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/3/2017 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 6/12/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jan 24, 2018 09:09PM Susaine wrote:

Have you gone mastectomy partially or completely.

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Jan 25, 2018 06:37AM Snickersmom wrote:

i had bilateral. Full mastectomy.

Dx 3/24/2017, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/3/2017 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 6/12/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Apr 29, 2018 10:49PM hapi2bee wrote:

Snickers, glad to hear that Medicare and your supplemental paid for your surgeries and treatments. I am BRCA1 positive, had ovarian cancer in 1996 and was diagnosed with DCIS left breast. Chose to have a bilateral mastectomy 3/26/2018 and haven't been sure whether insurance would cover the right breast removal. I too have Medicare and United health care supplemental (best I could get). Dealing with seroma and some healing issues right now - at 73 this isn't a lot of fun.

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Apr 30, 2018 06:59PM Snickersmom wrote:

I would think your insurance would cover it. I think it might sometimes depend on how your surgeon's office codes it as to whether or not they pay for it. I hope yours will. You are right - it's not a lot of fun but hey, we are alive to complain about it, right? This whole cancer thing positively sucks

Dx 3/24/2017, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/3/2017 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 6/12/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Aug 19, 2018 04:02PM hapi2bee wrote:

Snickersmom:

Everything went great with the insurances, worried about nothing, other than cancer. lol Saw my lady doctor about the "down in the dumps feelings" she said she would've been surprised if I didn't have those feelings since I went through a "loss" and amputation. Prescribed a mild anti-depressant and it seems to be working great. Am dealing with the smoke from forest fires now.

We are safe but have fires burning in British Columbia and Eastern Washington, if the wind blows one way we get Canadian smoke if it blows another it comes across the mountains from Eastern Washington, am certainly praying for all those affected, either directly or indirectly.

Thankful for your time, is nice to know there are others approximately the same age ( not that all feedback isn't welcome) it's just nice to know that that you can glean information from sources that have unfortunately experienced the same treatment, side effects etc.

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Aug 25, 2018 05:04AM Snickersmom wrote:

Hapi2bee - so glad your insurance came through for you! That's always a huge relief. Yes, there are lots of emotions you will have to deal with. I jumped right back into my "normal" life and then that came to a screeching halt about 6 months ago. I suddenly started falling apart on Sunday mornings, but it's only Sundays that bother me. So I am trying to work thru that with my therapist. Have to find my new "normal" now. My therapist says we all suffer from a form of PTSD and she thinks I haven't grieved yet over my loss/amputation. Ugh. This is so annoying, isn't it!!

I have a niece who lives on a boat in Seattle, and she has sent pictures of the smoke over the mountains. I hope by now they have gotten them under control and you have gotten some rain. You stay safe out there.

Thanks for letting me know you are okay and your insurance paid everything. Keep in touch!

Ann

Dx 3/24/2017, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/3/2017 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 6/12/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Sep 21, 2018 10:17PM lisap62 wrote:

snickersmom it is one thing that I learned is that the grieving process can be delayed but not denied. I !earned this not through my cancer, my mom's and her death nor my sister and her cancer and death, but my son's death. He died 12 years ago at 14 from a traffic accident. This cancer club is not something we all wanted to be in but found we were in like it or not. It is the same for anyone who has had a child die. Do the grieving work for as long as it takes. Acceptance does not mean we have to like it, but we all have to accept it. That means thinking about recurrence and what our new normal is. I can tell you that I will never like my son not in my life or cancer to be part of my new normal. Sending healing hugs and light to you and all. 💓

“The way in which we think of ourselves has everything to do with how our world see us and how we see ourselves successfully acknowledged by the world.” – Arlene Rankin Dx 8/7/2017, DCIS, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Dx 8/7/2017, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 10/25/2017 Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left Hormonal Therapy 12/22/2017 Femara (letrozole)
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Sep 22, 2018 03:09PM Snickersmom wrote:

thank you Lisa. I am so sorry you lost your son. I have learned that the grieving process can tak a long time and doesn’t necessarily happen right away. I have finally been able to do a little writing so I know I’m on my way to my new normal. I guess it will just take me some time.

Stay well and thank you for your support.

Ann

Dx 3/24/2017, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/3/2017 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 6/12/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Nov 2, 2018 03:55PM Freudosa wrote:

They should cover the prophylactic removal of the other breast. I had this done, but like most others here, I’m dealing with the bulges and am really frustrated that it isn’t considered as part of removing the dog ears. I just had that done and looked here because I still felt the bulge (my bandages aren’t even off yet). This is extremely frustrating and I agree that we have to really idiot proof our discussions with the surgeons and confirm that we’re on the same page. I’m considering switching surgeons as I feel this was somewhat deceptive.



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Nov 7, 2018 11:28PM PollyOne wrote:

Thanks everyone for the information about the dog ears and also grieving. I'm still early days, and experiencing more pain and fatigue than expected so it's helpful to be reminded that there's healing and hope ahead 

Dx 10/16/2018, DCIS/IDC, Left, 2cm, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 10/16/2018 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left
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Nov 8, 2018 07:18AM Snickersmom wrote:

Polly - none of us wants to be here but here we are, all sharing this awful disease and trying to find our new normal. You will be tired for a while, and you need to just listen to your body. When it tells you to take a rest, you need to do it, even if you don't want to. It has been 18 months since my BMX and I still want to nap every afternoon for a while. Sometimes I do, unless I am busy or out of the house. I do seem to be at a standstill with grieving. I have been so busy and we have had nonstop company so I just haven't had time to even think about me!! Maybe that's a good thing.

Anyway, hang in there. We are all here for you whenever you need us so keep posting.

Ann

Dx 3/24/2017, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/3/2017 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 6/12/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Nov 8, 2018 04:39PM PollyOne wrote:

Thanks snickersmom. One of my biggest concerns has been needing to return to work to keep a paycheck and insurance. I tried working from home on Tuesday and ended up really uncomfortable after just four hours. I realized it's still way too early so am taking time off through the end of next week to deal with multiple appointments. I'm really hoping pt will help with the pain, but disappointed to learn that losing weight won't necessarily help the bulge under my arm. It's so sensitive when I bump it right now. Hoping the sensitiv at least will get better?

Dx 10/16/2018, DCIS/IDC, Left, 2cm, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 10/16/2018 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left
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Nov 8, 2018 05:25PM Snickersmom wrote:

I really had no pain at all but I think it depends on the person. I went home the next morning and I was stiff but that was it. I was able to start my lymphodema exercises after a week and when I had my pre-op, my surgeon sent me to their lymphodema specialist in case I needed her. But I didn't have any problems so just did the exercises at home and that was enough to loosen up the cordon under my arms. That was really the most uncomfortable thing and even now I can sometimes feel my arms tightening up where the cording is. So I just raise my arms up over my head and then sway back and forth from side to side, and that seems to be enough to loosen it up.

Did your surgeon take the stupid dog flap? I never even knew what that was but my surgeon apparently told my husband about them and removed them. He said he always does. So I don't have any bulges under my arms. The only sensitivity I have is under my right arm when I shave. Thankfully, there's very little hair now (yippee!) so it's not much of a problem.

It will get better, but if you are really miserable, talk to your surgeon. Maybe he/she can do something for you so that you feel better. Just remember - give yourself time, both physically and emotionally. It's a hard road but we are tougher than we think.

We are always here for you.

Hugs,

Ann

Dx 3/24/2017, ILC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/3/2017 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 6/12/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Nov 19, 2018 05:19AM Aussie-Cat wrote:

I had my bilateral mastectomy in June and I don't have bulges under my arms but along with the fat ridges that I knew would be left, the bits in the centre are somewhat pointy. I'm hoping I can have revision surgery for that some time but since it's a public hospital, I haven't even seen my actual surgeon since surgery! I thought I would be sent a letter about an appointment with a breast surgeon there (usually a registrar) but I haven't been sent it yet. There have been so many things about my treatment that I've been disappointed about so I'm not expecting much but I hope they will do revision surgery and do it better than the first time around. I don't have insurance so I can't go to a private hospital.

Surgery 6/19/2018 Prophylactic mastectomy: Left, Right

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