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Topic: Recovery from Axial Dissection?

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

Posted on: Sep 19, 2020 04:44AM - edited Sep 19, 2020 04:45AM by scaredme

scaredme wrote:

Hi All,

I just had a lumpectomy with a sentinel node dissection on 9/1 and was apparently all 3 of my sentinel nodes were cancerous, so I will be undergoing an axial lymph node dissection on 10/1. I am wondering how much time I should take off from work (I work a desk job from home). All I can see when I research this online is 3-6 weeks, but that seems a bit extreme. Any idea?

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Sep 19, 2020 10:44AM SpecialK wrote:

scared - sorry you need this additional surgery, it’s disheartening, right? I had a bi-lateral mastectomy with tissue expanders placed and then needed axillary dissection surgery five weeks later. I was just starting to feel good from the first surgery so it was hard to take a step backward and need to recover again, but it was not as difficult as the first surgery. Is this your dominant arm? For me it was, and that made normal activities a bit tougher, mainly because my instructions were to keep my arm pretty still. I would say at least two to three weeks, but your surgeon is the best source of information and would be the one to release you back to work. I had the axillary surgery around the end of the first week in December and I feel like Christmas was pretty normal - so about three weeks, with some restrictions still? I did have some numbness and pins and needles sensation which were aggravating, but eventually dissipated. I found that skin to skin contact between the underarm and my side was annoying initially. Repetitive motions, lifting things, etc. were harder for a while, you just have to be careful. I would recommend a referral, ahead of surgery if possible, to a certified lymphedema therapist for measurement of your arm, general recommendations, and advice for prevention of lymphedema, which is more prevalent with ALND surgery. You may also request a short course of physical therapy to preserve range of motion. Wishing you the best.

BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 15 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 6/18/13-present. Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3 Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
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Sep 19, 2020 03:53PM NorCalS wrote:


I had a lumpectomy and sentinel node dissection. The surgeon removed the sentinel nodes and it was sent to pathology for examination. One node was positive, so after the surgeon performed the lumpectomy, she performed an axillary dissection. I was told by my surgeon prior to the surgery that it would take a week to two weeks to recover. I was able to cook dinner the night right after surgery. I’m right handed and the surgery was to my left side, so that made a difference. That being said, the only inconvenience was the drain.

I think it depends on how you heal. I had a really quick recovery and even my surgeon was surprised. I had no pain afterwards and I was able to go about normal activities.

Dx: 06/2019, left breast, ER/PR-, Her2-. Treatment: 06/2019 - 11/2019 AC/T. Surgery: Lumpectomy with axillary dissection in 12/2019. Radiation: 01/2020-03/2020. Xeloda - 03/2020-09/2020
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Sep 19, 2020 04:04PM MinusTwo wrote:

scared - my ALND was on my dominant/right side - so I was pretty much sidelined for 3 weeks (pun intended). I still have numbness along the inside of my arm 7 years later. Due to surgery AND radiation, I have to stretch it out daily or the muscles & nerves want to pull back like an elastic.

I agree with Special's recommendation to get measured by a certified, trained LEPT before your surgery. Many docs discount lymphadema, but it can have serious consequences if not addressed early & treated correctly. Fortunately I've been been able to keep mine corralled to mild breast & truncal LE.

There's good info on BCO about LE, but the link below will answer many of your questions all in one place.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Sep 19, 2020 05:36PM - edited Sep 19, 2020 05:37PM by brittonkb

I had my lumpectomy with sentinel node biopsy on May 20. Due to cancerous nodes I had an ALND on July 6th. Mine is on my right/dominant side. I have to say the ALND was a much harder recovery for me than the lumpectomy. But I got my drain out on July 15th and left for a week long vacation on July 18th (including a 12-hour drive to get there - my husband drove). If you can ease back into things it might be good. I would have had a hard time using a computer for 8 hours/day within those first few weeks.

Dx 4/29/2020, IDC, Right, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 3/13 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 5/20/2020 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 7/6/2020 Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary Chemotherapy 8/3/2020 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Sep 20, 2020 04:40AM scaredme wrote:

Luckily for me, the surgery will be on my non-dominant side. I am still having hypersensitivity under my arm from my first surgery (otherwise, I'm doing great), so I'm not thrilled to open that incision back up again for this.

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Sep 20, 2020 01:54PM MinusTwo wrote:

scared - for perspective - I had a double mastectomy not quite 3 years before my ALND surgery. Even as warn down as I was from chemo before the ALND, and even though it was my dominant side - it was a much easier recovery than BMX. Certainly not any harder than the reconstruction exchange for implants.

Do look into getting assessed/measured by a professional for LE before the surgery.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014

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