Healing post-lumpectomy – 3 months later

13 Jan

November 16, 2011

Surgery takes its toll, as I’m sure anyone who has gone under the knife will tell you.  With a lumpectomy, it’s not so much the outer scars  which feel like an issue right now as the stitches inside my body.  I can monitor the external scars and address them as I see fit, but I can’t visualize the inner wounds/stitches/scarring.  These are the ones I worry about a bit.

This past weekend I did a really long drive and near the end of it I was worried because my breasts were hurting quite a bit.  I thought there was a good chance the pain was caused by a combination of more heavy lifting than usual accompanied by wearing a bra that wasn’t sufficiently supportive, but I was still concerned enough to finally call my surgeon’s office and leave a message.

On Monday I got a return call from the physician’s assistant.  I learned something new.  I had had “twinges” of pain that I would feel from time to time.  They were intermittent but concerning.  She informed me these were normal and could be expected for up to a year.  They are indicative of the healing of damaged nerves.

What a relief.  Too bad they didn’t tell me that earlier so I wouldn’t worry.  Don’t you think that would have been helpful to know?

I do wish there had been more information given about what to expect post-surgery.  I mentioned this to the P.A.  She told me that they did give quite a bit of info to those who have had mastectomies, but apparently not to those who’ve only had lumpectomies.  And that’s why I’m glad I’m doing this blog!  So you all can learn through my experiences!

I went online to see what I could discover about healing following lumpectomies, and the truth is there really isn’t much information out there.  I looked both online and in the books I have about breast cancer and nowhere yet have I discovered anyone talking in detail about recovery from lumpectomy surgery after the first couple of weeks.  Everyone in the clinical field seems to think recovery will be pretty quick and easy.  But looking at discussions on the breastcancer.org site, it appears there are many women who have swelling and discomfort for several months after the surgery.

For instance, they suggest only that one refrain from heavy lifting or jogging for a couple weeks.  That’s absurd!  Especially for women with larger breasts.  Even with a good support bra, I’d be extremely afraid of jogging.  My breasts still feel way too fragile for that.  My goodness, I still can’t even give good bear hugs without hurting a teeny bit.

What I have discovered is that a sports bra or the surgical bra they put on me in the hospital gave support to the breast tissue, but also created a lot of sensitivity in the nipple area.  Nipples are obviously sensitive areas anyway, but when they’ve been impacted by surgery, they are even more so.  Thus, supportive bras will feel good to the breast itself (especially for larger-breasted women) but may not feel good to the nipple.  My nipples didn’t stop being hyper-sensitive until about two months after the surgery.

As far as lifting and heavy physical activity, I think we need to tune into our intuition.  Among other things, I am a massage therapist, and I was very wary of doing massage again because my right arm/hand is dominant and deeper work most definitely uses muscles in my chest!  The site of my incision is pretty much directly lateral to my right nipple, therefore it is a little lower than most of the pectoral muscles.  However it would most definitely impact the serratus anterior muscles which are involved with a pushing kind of motion.  I was also aware the lifting and pulling motions would impact my breast tissue.

This intuition was born out a few times recently.  I moved at the end of September and into the early part of October.  I tried not to do too much hugely heavy lifting, but I certainly lifted my share of boxes and smaller furniture.  I tried to remember to keep my arm close to my chest so as to not overly stress the chest and underarm muscles, but occasionally I would be caught up in doing things and would be less conscious.  In addition I moved to a place in the country and my landlord asked me to assist with the raking and some other activities that did put some stress on my arm/chest/breast area.   After these activities I started feeling more shooting pains in the underarm area, as well as fatigue/discomfort in various places in my breast.

Apparently any “shooting” or tingly intermittent pains are related to the regrowth of the nerves.  It’s called neuropathic pain.  It makes sense that there would be odd sensations during the regrowth and healing of nerves.  But again, couldn’t they have freakin’ warned me of this so it wouldn’t be a surprise?  What’s up with that???

Other aches in my underarm area I believe are more muscular in nature as my body adjusts to using muscles that I’d been resting for a few months.  I read about one woman who obtained a prescription for physical therapy.  She said the physical therapists were extremely helpful and knowledgeable and spent quality time with her answering questions and making suggestions.  So for any of you larger-breasted women who have physically active or strenuous lives (including things like looking after toddlers or working on a farm), you may want to ask about physical therapy.

All in all, I’d say I’m healing well.  The lumpectomy scar is lighter now and the hardness of the tissue underneath the scar has diminished significantly.  As far as my left breast (where they had removed a milk duct as well as the nodule inside it), the scar is barely noticeable, as the color of the areola disguises it perfectly.  There is a very slight indentation where the milk duct was removed, and the nipple lists ever so slightly toward the scar, but unless you were looking for it, I doubt you would notice these things.

I am really grateful to have had such a skilled and conscientious surgeon.  And once again, I am so grateful to have my breasts, scars and all.

And, oh yes, I’m glad also that I appear to be cancer-free.  Let’s not forget that!  I guess sometimes I’m afraid to count that chicken.  (Is that the right metaphor?)  I don’t want to let my guard down and become complacent.  But for now, oh am I grateful.  May I use this experience to get healthier and healthier and healthier.  There is a lot of life yet to be lived!

Be well, my friends.

122 Responses to “Healing post-lumpectomy – 3 months later”

  1. Kelly at 10:48 pm #

    Thanks for this! I had a duct excision in February and am still having those twinges of pain. I was starting to wonder if something else was wrong. Such a relief to find out this is normal. Wish someone would have told me. Thanks Again.

    • cindygreb at 7:36 pm #

      Hi Kelly. It’s annoying, isn’t it? They make us think things will be back to normal in just a week or two. Ay carumba! It took a good ten months for my breasts to feel normal again! (Although truthfully, the one with the duct excision did heal faster than the one with the lumpectomy.)
      I’m so glad to reassure you that you’re normal and that your body is probably healing in its own precious time. May you continue to heal beautifully and well. Keep in touch, if you choose.

      • Laura at 1:25 am #

        Cindy, that you for taking the time to do this! There is so much valuable information that does not seem available on other sites. I had a lumpectomy 6 weeks ago and was recovering splendidly, got back to exercising and am now experiencing pain under the incision. After reading your blog and all of the comments, I now have a better understanding of the healing procedure. Thank you all for sharing.

      • cindygreb at 8:42 pm #

        Dear Laura, hi! I’m so sorry I didn’t see your comment sooner! I’m so glad my blog helped you to feel more comfortable about what’s happening with your body post lumpectomy. May you learn to tune into your body and do what it needs without doing too much. May your recovery be problem-free and may you be beautifully healthy from here on out!
        Blessings to you!

  2. Pamela at 3:04 am #

    Glad to find this. I am having a duct excision next Wednesday.

  3. Dawn at 8:20 pm #

    Hi there,

    Glad to read this. Had major duct excision surgery today and the nurses advised paracetamol and return to work the next day. Hmm! Surgery took over an hour and bruising is pretty big already.

    Anyway, thanks and be well all,

    • cindygreb at 3:27 pm #

      Hi Dawn.

      Take good care of yourself today! And tomorrow. Just let yourself have time to heal. Indulge in some radical self-care.
      Hope you heal quickly and well and come to a place of vibrant good health.

      Blessings to you,

      • Patricia Cerreto at 12:03 pm #

        Thank you so much I will contact surgeon just for a little more info but you helped a great deal blessings!!

      • cindygreb at 2:00 pm #

        So glad I could be of help! Continued blessings to you on your healing journey!

  4. AS at 5:13 pm #

    Thank you so much – I’m still feeling ‘twinges’ and aching pain on and off and I’m at 2.5 months after surgery, with my scar also just at the nipple. I was about to call the doctor this week, but it is reassuring to know this is normal.

    • cindygreb at 1:59 pm #

      It’s probably perfectly normal, but it never hurts to keep your doctor informed. I wish you well! Continued healing for you! May you be blessed.

      • beth at 8:51 pm #

        thank you so much for this, I have been searching for info 2 weeks since my surgery ans was starting to believer the BS from my DR telling me I should be recovered in one week….no way!!! i hurt when I drive, do laundry, lift anything, reach to far, and I too am a massage therapist and fear (very much) doing a deep tissue. I am not crazy or alone. Thank you!

      • cindygreb at 10:44 pm #

        Hi Beth. I’m so sorry you’re still hurting! If it is really painful, it might be wise to inform your surgeon and/or oncologist or GP just to rule out anything serious (like infection, etc.) Twinges and discomfort are certainly normal, in my experience. But more serious pain should probably be checked out.
        I wish you well! I see you healed, whole, and holy!
        Blessings to you.

  5. Nettie at 3:44 pm #

    Thank you for this post. I had a lumpectomy in Feb and six weeks later I’m having sharp painful twinges and discomfort also. I knew the nerves would be growing back but I thought the pain would subside by now. I’m grateful that you took the time to share so that I know what to expect going forward (but for up to a year? Ugh).

    • cindygreb at 4:35 pm #

      Nettie, I’m so sorry you’re still experiencing discomfort. Make sure you wear a really really supportive bra. That definitely does help. And I wore a sports bra to bed for quite a long time, too.
      I hope things keep getting better and better.
      Blessings to you!!!

  6. Marie at 6:00 pm #

    Thank you for this blog. I had my lumpectomy a month ago. I have had no issues at all but I am experiencing these pain twinges behind the nipple and around the surgery area, just this past 2 weeks. I was concerned it was a heart issue. Now I know these are healing pains. Why don’t they tell you this stuff baffles me???

    • cindygreb at 2:34 am #

      My guess is a lot of the surgeons never had lumpectomies themselves, so they really have no idea. And maybe not enough of their patients report on these issues so they can learn.
      Thank goodness we have the internet!
      Blessings to you, Marie! May you continue to heal well and fast!

  7. Damari Solis-Rodriguez at 2:53 am #

    Thank you so much for this post. I had a lumpectomy/biopsy done 6 weeks ago and have experienced much of what you have written. I thought I was going crazy and my husband was concerned so before I called the doctor I decided to go to the internet and I am so glad I did. The twinges to the pain under my arm and especially the overly sensitive nipple!! I am now suffering with the itching and try desperately not to scratch.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this blog and giving others like me somewhere to get the information we so desperately need and not given at the time of surgery.

    • cindygreb at 2:33 am #

      You’re so welcome, Damari! And I hope the twinges go away soon!
      I wish you the very best. May you be healed, whole, and healthy!

  8. JudiCaz at 2:18 pm #

    I am so glad I found this, it came up first in my yahoo search for lumpectomy blogs. I am meeting with surgeon tomorrow to let him know if I want lumpectomy or mastectomy – I have a choice luckily. I have about decided on lumpectomy although I have extreme pressure against from my sister who fears radiology because of past experience with her child. This blog gives me the info to ask surgeon the right questions. Very nervous, I still have 24 hours to decide.

    • cindygreb at 4:51 pm #

      Dear Judi, hi. I totally understand your nervousness! I encourage you to not let your sister’s (or anyone’s) fears sway you from what your gut is telling you. Please listen to your gut. These are really tough choices. We can make them with our mind or we can make them with our heart/gut. I believe we make our best decisions when we inform our mind and then trust our gut. (You can also read my blog on intuition, if you want. http://cindygreb.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/listening-to-your-intuition/) My only input, if I may, is that a mastectomy is kind of an irreversible decision. So it’s important to be really sure. Also, YOU CAN ALWAYS TAKE MORE TIME TO DECIDE!!!!!!!! Most cancers are very slow growing and taking a few more days, or even a couple weeks, to make such a major decision is quite okay! Important even! Don’t let anyone else dictate your schedule. You need to be sure! Figure out what feels right for you. And if you need more time to decide, take it!!!! (Going on retreat can really help. I just went to the shore for the day and it really helped.) Blessings to you, friend. I hope you see this in time. You’re also welcome to write to me via email. cynthiagreb@gmail.com I wish you peace and health. Hugs.

  9. jodie herden at 12:14 pm #

    Hi ladies I am post surgery 4 weeks. Wow what an ordeal it has been?? I dont want to scare anyone but what was meant to be a small procedure has became quite a dramatic one. I had major duct excisions on both sides, for multiple intraductal papillomas, duct ecstasia and a hookwire biospy Week 1 wasnt to bad lots of swelling and bruising on left side and pain. Week 2 i started having discharge an developed an infection on both breasts then the next week i ended up in hospital in severe pain and more discharge. I have been extremely frustrated by this whole ordeal as it was meant to be a small procedure. i was told by my dr he had no idea why I am in pain,made me feel like I was making it all up ?? Had ultrasound nothing significant shown. Went home. Week4 still in excruciating pain. I live in a bra cause if i take it off my breasts feel like two engorged bowling balls but aren’t red or swollen. Oh to add to this I received a diathermy burn on my nipple during surgery which is quite sore so this now being dressed by a nurse. I have had 3 weeks off work I am becoming extremely depressed can anyone help me ?

    • cindygreb at 2:26 pm #

      Oh Jodie! How horrible for you! And I have to say I am extremely pissed at your doctor. If there is discharge and an infection, OBVIOUSLY you would be in pain! If you’re still in such great pain, it leads me to believe there is still some kind of infections inside. Have they done any x-rays or ultrasounds or whatever to determine what’s happening inside? Is it possible to consult another doctor? I would most certainly get advice from another doctor. And although I don’t normally automatically tell people to go to a female doctor, a woman might have more compassion for the pain you’re feeling.
      Holding you in my thoughts. Please let me know what happens.
      Wishing you wellness and peace!

  10. Laurie valentine at 1:26 am #

    I am 7 weeks after my lumpectomy, everything was going swimmingly and I decided to get back to my spring running. I have a d cup and was wearing a very supportive bra. Not a good idea. I felt emotionally well and physically but my body had undergone a huge change. Don’t kid yourself into thinking “business as usual” even after the safe point if 6 weeks. I have recently had sharp shooting spins and extreme nerves to touch around my nipple, my incision surrounds it in a half moon. I called the breast clinic , they said too much too soon. Slow down. It’s not like we just had stitches, we have had one of the most sensitive areas of our bodies disrupted. Take it easy

    • cindygreb at 12:34 am #

      Thank you for sharing, Laurie. I’m glad you called the clinic and I’m glad you’re slowing down. Yes, our bodies need time to heal. Especially those of us with larger breasts.
      May you be well.

  11. Raven at 2:19 pm #

    Thank you so much for the information. I had a lumpectomy this past January and I am still having pain every so often. I was relieved to read your blog because I was tempted to make an appointment with my doctor because I thought something was wrong. My incision was on the side of my breast right where my bra sits, so it’s a tough are to avoid. Thanks again for the info!

    • cindygreb at 12:04 am #

      Hi Raven. I’m glad my blog helped you to worry less. Although I think it never hurts to call your surgeon just to be on the safe side. (Besides, I think they need to hear from us when things don’t feel right so they can consider warning new patients that the healing process may be up and down.) Have you been given a referral to a bra specialist? My surgeon did. These wonderful women specialize in bras for women with breast cancer. My guess is they might have some good ideas for you.
      Meanwhile, I wish you well, Raven. Take sweet care of yourself!

  12. Mandi at 11:50 am #

    Thanks for this blog. I had a lumpectomy 3 weeks ago this Friday and one lymph node removed. My tumor was relatively small (8mm) and under my breast. I was really lucky and did not have much pain and was able to do all my exercise the day after my surgery and even went back to work within a week of surgery. The last few days my nipple area has gotten really sensitive and I cannot bear anything near it or on it. I feel really bad complaining about this because I have been so lucky with the pain compared to others. Like you I have gone through all the sites regarding life after lumpectomy and could not get much detail until I came across your blog. Thank you it really makes you feel that you are not going crazy when you hear other stories and that it is normal.

    Good luck everyone

    • cindygreb at 12:01 am #

      Dear Mandi,
      I’m so glad that, up until recently, you had such great success with your surgery. I hope you can figure out a solution for your sensitive nipple! Maybe cut a small hole in one of your “less pretty” bras?
      Thanks for affirming the importance/help of my blog. I appreciate it.
      May you be wonderfully well!!!

  13. KarenR at 9:02 pm #

    So glad to have found this, thanks for sharing. Had an excision 2 weeks ago and still having sensitivity and pain, when they said it would go away within a few days. I’m a stomach sleeper and tried it for a few days, thought I messed up my surgery site and that’s why I was still in pain. Glad to know its part of the healing process. Anyone know about drinking caffeine? My doc said it was fine, and I struggle to get by without my morning cup of Joe, but does caffiene affect sensitivity and the healing process in anyone’s experience? Thanks again for sharing, I feel relieved.

    • cindygreb at 3:28 pm #

      Hi Karen, I’m sorry to hear you’re still feeling pain.
      I think these are questions you need to ask your doctor. Continued sensitivity certainly makes sense, but if you’re feeling pain, you should probably check with him or her just to make sure. Bruising is to be expected. Is there noticeable redness or inflammation? That would be a cause for concern. I don’t think a morning cup of coffee would interfere, but you can certainly ask your doctor. (There are some herbs and foods that can help your nerves. Here’s one site to check out: http://omtimes.com/2012/11/21-ways-to-heal-nerve-pain-naturally/2/) I wish you well! May you heal beautifully and soon!

  14. Em at 3:12 pm #

    Like all the others have said, I’m so glad to have found this information. I am one month after a lumpectomy and still have a sensitive breast. For 2 weeks after the surgery I had tingles and sharp needle-like stabs around the nipple area. Just quick sharp pain that didn’t linger. I figured it was some healing but now from this blog I learned it is probably the nerve endings. In bed when I rolled over onto the surgery side it hurt but found wearing a bra helped ease that pain. I also had a few days with a very sensitive nipple, when even the bra material touching it hurt. I wore these small rubbery things that girls wear to cover the “headlight” nipples under t-shirts. It helped a lot.
    I do a lot of stretching during yoga and occasionally the incision on the breast and near my arm (for the lymph node biopsy) remind me that I’ve reached the limit on that stretch. Both scares are still very hard. I start radiation in 2 weeks.
    Thanks all for sharing their stories

    • cindygreb at 3:13 pm #

      Hi Em. Thanks for sharing. I’m proud of you for listening to your body and doing what feels right. May your breast, body, and spirit heal beautifully well. May the radiation go well. May you be radiantly healthy. Sending blessings and (gentle) hugs. Cindy

  15. Ramona at 1:58 pm #

    Great to read this blog. I am having a duct excision Friday. After having a cyst removed a month ago still was having bloody discharge from nipple. My Dr seems to make it a simple procedure but I had a lot of pain after the cyst was removed via vacuum biopsy. I was actually planning on going back to work next Monday. What would you say the “down” time is? Thanks!!

    • cindygreb at 2:36 am #

      Hi Ramona. Vacuum biopsies…. (shudder) I didn’t remember having a lot of discomfort after my duct excision. But then again they did it at the same time as the lumpectomy on my other breast, so I was a bit distracted by that. If you’re getting it done on Friday, I suspect you’ll be okay by Monday. I would ask for pain meds though. It was comforting for me to have them. I only used them twice and I’m not completely sure I needed the second dose.
      By the way, I don’t remember if I wrote this or not, but I had a shivering thing going on for a good half hour or more after the surgery. I think the nurse said it was a byproduct of the anesthesia. I found it quite disconcerting, so I thought I’d give you a heads up. (Apparently it’s nothing to worry about.)
      I wish you well! May everything go smoothly and may you be happy and well.

  16. Lisa Branch Brock at 2:11 am #

    Thank you for this info. Still finding it useful a couple of years afterward! I had a lumpectomy 2 weeks ago and my husband and I were both surprised at the lack of information given to us before and after surgery. When we asked about restrictions after surgery, we were told “just don’t do anything too jiggly”. What??? I haven’t had much pain or problems until tonight when I started having sharp sensations toward the nipple area (most of the pain before this was the incision from underarm node removal), so I was worried something more serious was taking place. Your information has relieved my mind and since I am scheduled for my 2nd post-op appointment in less than a week, this will keep me sane until then! Thanks again!

    • cindygreb at 8:33 pm #

      You’re so welcome, Lisa. And, as always, I think it’s wise to call the surgeon’s office just to let them know. Even if they don’t have useful information for you, at least they can begin to learn that these kinds of things are not uncommon!
      Meanwhile, I wish you well! Continued health and easy recovery to you! Blessings.

  17. Bp at 11:25 pm #

    I’m so glad I found your blog. I had a lumpectomy two months ago and just started having shooting pains in my breast. The first thought is Cancer but now I know it’s the nerves healing and causing pain. No one told me this would happen. Everyone said a lumpectomy is minor surgery and I thought after two months I would be healed up completely. So thanks for thus information.

    • cindygreb at 4:17 pm #

      You’re so welcome. It really helps when we share information, doesn’t it?
      And, I always like to suggest that you call your surgeon’s office anyway. 1) “Just in case” they think it could be something else. But mostly because 2) I think they need to hear from us patients that the healing isn’t as straight-forward as they like us to believe. I think they need to know when we’re having twinges and “shooting pains.” They need to know that we would prefer to be forewarned of the possibility so that we don’t worry when it happens!!!
      Blessings to you. May you heal beautifully from here on out!

  18. Nina Biviano at 1:09 pm #

    Good morning:) I had a total duct excision in my right breast in April 2015 because of a yellow drainage that was being watched for two years. GYN male doc ran pituitary, thyroid tests and sent in a sample of fluid to check on the drainage…tests came back normal. So I just kept doing my yearly mammograms, my radiologist who is a friend said this is going on too long and sent me to a surgeon. I have a woman surgeon who is very compassionate and a breast cancer survivor. She was comforting to me explaining things to expect before and after the surgery. About a week post surgery, I started to spot blood in my bra, went back in and she called it fast, furious and not dangerous. To express the drainage out of the breast being gentle while I showered, it was stuff draining from my surgery through the nipple. She was 100% correct after two or three showers with less drainage each time. It is now 6 months since my surgery and I have twinges of pain every so often and my scar is a two inch crescent shape under the areola and I can feel scar tissue. The nipple is indented some and I am finding can harbor soap from shower. When removing the soap I can feel sensitivity is returning to the nipple:) My prognosis was NO cancer after removing 15 milk ducts and a large growth, the surgery was a partial mastectomy when it was all said and done. So thankful it turned out well…amen! I do agree I think it will take another 6 months to be back to no twinges. I am so thankful for this blog because my doctor isn’t assessable as she is out for medical leave and I have been experiencing those twinges and it helped to get this information you shared. I know this was long but it may help someone who might have some of what I experienced pre and post surgery.
    Many blessings to you all,

    • cindygreb at 12:35 pm #

      Dear Nina, thank you so much for sharing your stories! Our stories are so important.
      So happy to hear that you found a wonderful surgeon and have such a great prognosis.
      Continued healing to you! Blessings.

    • Erica at 6:30 pm #

      Thank you so much for your post. I just had a total duct excision which turned into a partial mastectomy as well. My nipple is indented a bit underneath and I also have a hard sensitive knot which I am assuming is scar tissue or stitches. I am 5 weeks post surgery and still feel very sore on one side of my breast (like someone punched me) and very sensitive nipple. Just today after sweeping the floor I starting getting the stabbing pain in my incision area that comes and goes. Hoping the recovery for time is almost over and I will can feel back to normal soon.

      • cindygreb at 9:40 pm #

        Dear Erica, I’m so sorry you’re still experiencing so much pain. I can see how that sweeping motion could be using those breast tissue muscles. You may want to just doublecheck with your surgeon’s office about the continued soreness, just to be safe.
        May your healing be quick and complete. Blessings to you.

  19. June James at 7:43 pm #

    I’m so relieved to have found this thread! I had lump removed 2 weeks ago and again was given no post-op advice. I’m experiencing a very sensitive nipple and a dull ache under my breast . I guess the fact that I was internet searching shows how little information there is out there. I feel guilty for moaning, my lump came back as benign, so I’m one of the very lucky ones amongst us 😊
    Now I’ve read all your advice I can relax and try and get on with my life. Thank you and wish you all well. xxx

    • cindygreb at 9:45 pm #

      Hi June. Isn’t it crazy that there’s not more stuff out there about these procedures?! So glad my blog gave you a bit of peace. May you continue to be well. Blessings to you.

    • Sandy Lind at 5:30 pm #

      I feel the same as you. I had my lump removed three weeks ago and my nipple is very sensitive and under my breast I get some pain as well. I think doctors or surgeons need to read this blog. They would gain much information they could pass along to their patients.
      I also was blessed that my lump is benign.

      • cindygreb at 2:07 am #

        Hi Sandy. First of all, so glad your lump was benign.
        And yes, it would be cool if surgeons knew how their patients really felt post-lumpectomy. We clearly have some education to do!

  20. Judith at 4:09 pm #

    Thank you for all this info. It is very reassuring. I had a benign fibroadenoma excised 7 weeks ago and according to the surgeon – you will be able to play tennis again in a few weeks. I am no where near to that at the moment though have had no post surgery problems. If I do a little vacuuming or lift too many heavy things I have to rest a lot the next day as my body feels stiff/uncomfortable. I am doing my yoga exercises (limited) everyday but have to listen to my body. Am very frustrated as my mind tells me I should be doing more. However have to remind myself I am healthy, no cancer, small breasts but they are mine! Judith

    • cindygreb at 9:43 pm #

      Hmmm. I suspect this surgeon never had an excision before! I’m glad you know how to listen to your body and rest when you need to. I would say, in this instance, it’s MUCH more important to listen to your body than your mind. Your body is its own best healer. Glad you are healthy and whole. Blessings, Judith!

  21. Mel at 4:58 am #

    Thank you so much for this! I had a lumpectomy a month ago for a rare tumor in my right breast. I was really concerned feeling twinges of pain every now and the. And wondered if it would ever go away. I am glad to hear it’s normal and not just me! Thank you for sharing your story.

    • cindygreb at 9:41 pm #

      You’re welcome, Mel. May you be infinitely well! Blessings and health to you!

  22. Maria at 4:29 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing this. Im only three weeks post op after a excision biopsy of a suspected infected fibroandonma around 10cm! Had it since I was about 17 and was always on the large side but after the birth of my second child, it grew and my right breast was hot and swollen.
    It was sugusted to have it remove after two courses of antibiotics so it wouldn’t risk happening again. They removed the lump no problem and found it was full of milk (i wasnt breastfeeding). Tomorrow Im going back for the results. But as of late ive noticed my breast has the occasional twinge of pain, nipple is very itchy and sensitive. Ive found its worse in the cold weather, the scar will hurt. I took the clear bandage off a week after the op but left the steri strips over te top of the dissovable stitches. As you said, there wasnt much info given to me on self care afterwards apart from how to shower. No time frames etc.
    But im so relieved to see others experienced the same pain afterwards and i now know it may be the case for a while yet!

    • cindygreb at 7:49 pm #

      Dear Maria, how were the results? I so hope you got reassuring news. And even if not, remember, it’s all doable. One step at a time. No rush.
      Meanwhile, I hope your breast heals well from the lumpectomy and biopsy. Keep in touch and let me know how you are, okay?
      Blessings to you.

  23. Tami at 5:46 am #

    I am so glad to find this. I am almost 2 weeks post op. I was sitting her in tears. My info makes it sound like I will be healed in two weeks. I have such pain and heaviness in my breast. I am told this gets worse with radiation. Ugh.. I just appreciate knowing that it takes time to heal.

    • cindygreb at 2:58 pm #

      I’m so sorry that it has been so difficult and painful, Tami. Hopefully they gave you those “bondage wraps.” I don’t remember what they’re called, but even though they squished my nipples, I was really grateful for the support. I wore them night and day until I was feeling healed enough to give myself a rest from it at night (and even then, I believe I wore a sports bra to provide some support.) I can’t figure out how to post a picture or I’d show you what I mean. It’s like a big ace bandage thing. Anyway, may your healing accelerate. Be really kind and gentle with yourself. Nurture yourself in any ways you can. Sending gentle blessings your way.

    • whitebird123 at 3:16 pm #

      Tami, your email brought back how I felt when the same was happening to me, lumpectomy and radiation. You must remember that you had SURGERY and it takes time to heal. My doctor gave me what he called, “a tight bra” to wear. I hated it, yet loved it for several months afterwards. There were times I needed less or more support, my breast told me what to do. Trust yourself. I am now 13 months after surgery, think myself healed, but the othere day I had a sharp pain in my breast, it comes from deep within. I think of it as a reminder of what my doctor told me, your life has just changed forever. At the same time, I decided that every time I feel a pain, I think of others who have it so much worse. You will persevere, keep in contact with people like cindygreb and it will make your life flourish.

      • cindygreb at 5:31 pm #

        Excellent advice, Whitebird! “Trust yourself.” That’s very, very wise. And yes, absolutely it takes time to heal from surgery. And yes, there was trauma done to tissues often deep within the breast. So yes, be kind and gentle to yourself and trust your instincts. Blessings.

  24. RH at 8:00 pm #

    Thank you for the information. I was wondering about the twinges and was not told anything about them. I am glad they are part of the healing process.

    • cindygreb at 12:51 am #

      So glad that bit of info was reassuring for you. May you continue to heal well.

  25. Anita Williams at 9:41 am #

    Thank you so much for this Cindy. I’ve been trawling the Internet to see if I’m ‘normal’ I had a lumpectomy 12 days ago & was fine for about 5 days & probably did too much because of this. Now my breast is more uncomfortable. I’m big breasted & feel it’s the weight pulling on the scar & inside damage. I can’t go without a good supporting bra day & night at the moment. But by the evening even this becomes uncomfortable. Reading about women who were ‘back to normal’ after 2 weeks made me feel like something was wrong so you’ve put my mind at rest. Thank you. Anita x

    • cindygreb at 1:17 pm #

      You’re welcome. I’m sorry to hear you can’t go without a good supportive bra day and night right now. I’m worried for you that it will hurt for a while as gravity pulls down on your breast and thereby affects the healing of the site of the lumpectomy. Please do whatever you can to support your body in its healing. And, I trust you’re doing what is right for you. Blessings, Anita. May you continue to heal and be well.

      • Julie at 9:48 am #

        Hello cindy
        On the 2nd February I had a hadfield procedure on my left breast and had a very sensitive nipple and was so painful. My consultant advised me to put Bio-oil on my nipple every day. I was doing this from week 3 post-op … It took about five weeks and my nipple is not sensitive now and am starting to get normal sensitivity back and was wearing my normal bras without ant discomfort. Unfortunately, I had to have another hadfield procedure on Tuesday on my right breast. Like everyone else, even though I have been through this already, information is limited, and so glad to find this blog.
        I feel I am still recovering from my first operation with stabbing pains and twinges. This blog has really put my mind at rest.
        Thanks Julie x

      • cindygreb at 3:48 pm #

        Julie, thanks for writing! And thanks for sharing about the Bio oil! Have never heard of that. Very good to know. I’m so sorry you’re still having stabbing pains and twinges. Be gentle with yourself. Your body is doing its healing work.
        Btw, I always advocate telling your doctor/surgeon about the pains and twinges. 1) I think they should know in case they have some advice to offer. And 2) if they’ve never gone through these procedures personally, they should absolutely know what it’s like post-surgery/post-treatment so that they can choose to give a heads-up to all future patients.
        Blessings to you. May you continue to heal!

  26. Mari at 1:51 pm #

    I am so glad I found this blog! I am 7 weeks post partial mastectomy where they removed a 7.5 cm DCIS of the high grade variety from my left breast and cut the right breast down to match the left. I have been having horrible twinges and nipple pains especially today. The plastic surgeon said I could return to swimming at 6 weeks so I did and perhaps I overdid it. I will swim a bit less and see if it makes a difference. Since I refused radiation, I am taking lots of supplements and eating a raw diet of vegetables and fruits and I think all of that is helping. curcumin especially is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Thanks so much for this blog ladies! ….Oh…they DID get clear margins from the massive surgery! I went from a D cup to a B cup but like the little ones better I think….

    • cindygreb at 3:44 pm #

      Mari, I admire your commitment to your health! Good for you! I think perhaps you’re right that the swimming was a bit too much. You use so much of your arm and chest muscles when you swim! (Although you might feel embarrassed to do this in a public pool, I wonder if using some sort of flotation device to support your arms while continuing to use your legs to kick would be a good compromise until your breasts heal more.) I applaud you for the supplements and veggies and fruits, too. I wonder if some yogurt and fish oil (salmon?) might also be added? So glad you kept your breasts!!!!! May you continue to heal, Mari! Blessings.

  27. Alma D. Ramirez at 4:56 am #

    Thank you, very good to know 2 weeks after lumpsectomy.

    • cindygreb at 8:25 pm #

      You’re welcome. I hope all things go well for you.

  28. Elizabeth canario at 10:12 pm #

    I just had my surgery yesterday so I know this is too soon to tell but I cant understand how so people have told me they were fine in a couple of days. I am the furthest thing from fine. I really think there are so many types of lumpectomies. Some have a 1 or 2 cm tumor removed some have 3cm. I know for me my tumors were 1 1/2 and 1.7 but they have to take out the healthy tissue in between that equaled 1/4 of my breast. I am a large c. Actually now my right one looks like a b. My surgeon did everything she could to try and save it. I might not get clear margins but I am hoping I do. I had 5 lymph nodes removed. I can’t imagine the pain of a mastectomy. I was in surgery for 4hrs. I’m glad to read these other posts. It lets me know each lumpectomy is different not everyone is back to themselves in a couple of days. I can’t pick up a full mug with that hand or brush my hair with my right hand. I am just going to hope to feel a little better everyday. Thank you for creating this blog.

    • cindygreb at 8:13 pm #

      Hi Elizabeth. It sounds like you did indeed have a significantly more complex surgery. My goodness. That’s a lot of trauma your poor breast has gone through. Be gentle and kind to yourself and your dear breasts. Take it slow and easy. Healing takes time.
      Blessings to you.

  29. C L Ryan at 2:51 pm #

    I had a lumpectomy with removal of 2 nodules on May 19. I have also found recovery information to be very limited and what I do get from different doctors is even contradictory. I will have limited radiation next week. The catheter was placed in my breast on Tuesday and now there is so much gauze packing that I can not get my right arm all the way down to my side. (Think “I’m a little teapot.”) It is so hard to find a comfortable position for sleeping. I have been told by the surgical nurse that I can go back to full use of my arm after radiation, but my physical therapist has said it will be a long, slow process.

    • cindygreb at 5:42 pm #

      Oh my goodness. That sounds so uncomfortable! As far as standing, I had an image/idea of you hanging your arm in a sling. Do you think that would work? Perhaps it would be more comfortable than your arm sticking out to the side with no way to properly rest? Or would the gauze packing and your catheter be in the way of that as well. And oh, I do sympathize with not being able to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. When we don’t get enough deep sleep, it’s hard to heal. If you lie on the side of your unaffected breast and have a pillow on which to prop your arm, would that help? I’m just trying to brainstorm for you. Please forgive me if you’ve heard or tried these ideas already.
      I’m sending out healing thoughts for you. May the process be quicker and easier that your PT imagines. Don’t forget to send your body love. It is trying to heal and the healing will progress faster if it knows that you know it is trying its best.
      Blessings to you, sister.

      • C L Ryan at 4:34 pm #

        Thanks for your thoughts. I do use quite an arrangement of pillows for sleeping and even when I sit in my recliner. I had the first radiation treatment this morning and that was the quickest and easiest thing I have had to do in several weeks. I just keep telling myself that late on Friday afternoon I will have all the treatments done and I will be able to focus on healing.

  30. FD at 6:09 pm #

    Thanks for the info. I was starting to feel like I was being a neusence to my surgeon for call him about every little thing I experience after the surgery. Its been 1 month and 3 days sense I had an excesional breast surgery and after the first week the incision became infected. It actually just stopped bleeding a few days ago I kept calling the surgeon and going to his office for a visit and all he would say is its healing, but the twinges and hard tissue was making me nervous. After reading your blog I feel a little at ease the the surgeon is right and it is part of the healing.

    • cindygreb at 5:03 pm #

      I’m so glad that my blog was reassuring for you. And I’m so very sorry that your incision became infected. That must have been very painful for you! And scary! May you heal well now. Blessings to you.

      • Sandra Hill at 5:05 pm #

        Thank you so much for this blog. I also have been experiencing the sharp pains. I just finished my fourth radiation treatment after a lumpectomy and I am encouraged by the women who have gone through this ordeal and don’t mind sharing. I too was told I would be fine a couple weeks after surgery. Well, NOT. My surgery was June 30th and I still have some pain. I’m learning to listen to my body and not over exert myself. I would love to hear some ideas that may help during my remaining 6 weeks of radiation. Again, thank you so much for starting this blog and special thanks to the many women who don’t mind sharing their concerns and stories. It has been a blessing to me.

      • cindygreb at 5:30 pm #

        Hi Sandra. I’m so sorry you’re still having pain. I’m really glad to hear you’re learning to listen to your body. I think your body and your intuition will guide you, if you can listen. Meanwhile, I am not experienced with RT, but I do like the website http://www.breastcancer.org. They’re pretty comprehensive and they do have discussion boards. Hopefully others who’ve been through RT will be able to give some good advice.
        I wish you well. May you feel much better soon. May you be healthy and well.

  31. Tammy at 3:26 pm #

    I had a lumpectomy and reconstruction in February of this year 2016. It’s now 5 months later and I still have a lot of pain in my build and above the breast. Under my arm is still numb all the way to my elbow and I have the shooting pain from time to time. Your not alone. And yes your current there’s not allot of information out there. I’m happy and thankful to God and my surgeons for being cancer free. But when will my quality of life get better. I’m taking the pills for 5 years to begin with. I have been depressed and on medication for that as well, my hair is breaking off and falling out daily and yet there’s no substitute for the pills that are certainly the cause.

    • cindygreb at 5:26 pm #

      Oh Tammy, I’m so sorry to hear all this. I’m afraid your situation is beyond my scope of understanding as I never had reconstruction. I would reach out to others who have undergone reconstruction. They will surely have some advice for you. This is one of the better sites I’ve found: http://www.breastcancer.org/. And they do have discussion boards, etc.
      I truly wish you well, Tammy. May things begin to shift very soon. I will send some prayers for you!

  32. Jane Garcia at 8:45 pm #

    Hi Cindy

    I had a lumpectomy this morning. Please have patience as I am venting and maybe overreacting, but I hope for some feedback on this:

    I would be sleeping right now (should be) but as I laid down I realized my ice pack and bandage were much closer to my nipple than I expected. I’m wondering about how long, if at all) a loss of sensation I will have on my nipple area. Or how long I will have to avoid allowing my husband to stimulate me there.

    My atypia is documented 4 cm from my nipple at 1 o’clock. I was clear with the surgeon (in our planning meeting a month ago) and also with the nurse navigator on that same day) that I did not mind having a scar. What I did mind and was clear about was having an incision on or even at the edge of my nipple/aerola. I’ve had 2 c sections (21 and 20 years ago and I still have to be careful around that scar…its sensitive and still a little numb)

    I’ve had 2 c sections (21 and 20 years ago and I still have to be careful around that scar…its sensitive and still a little numb). I was not at all interested in adding my nipple to the “dont go there” areas, when it comes to sex….

    They told me that was fine and it was my choice, and they wouldnt touch or go near it with the knife.

    It hadn’t even occurred to me to recheck that, since he wrote it down while we were talking and I wasn’t thinking about it as a “what if” scenario.Well, turns, out the excision was along the edge of my aerola. I am very upset. I still have the bandage on but the nurse spoke to him (I called from home) and relayed the message that he did cut there.

    Am I being crazy? I felt relieved after the surgery even though I am waiting for the pathology report. I was about to let the painkillers set in and drift off for a nap. And now I’m stressed, can’t sleep, feel angry and also that I have to deal with the exact scenario I was adamant about avoiding and believed they heard me and my preference would be followed.

    The Dr must have not even looked at his notes….

    If anyone can tell me what they think/know about the whole nipple/aeroela thing I’ll be waiting to hear.

    Somebody please chime in?

    : (


    • cindygreb at 5:20 pm #

      Dear Jane, hi. I totally, totally understand about you not wanting your sex life to be interfered with. This is so important!!!! But here’s the good news. I had a duct incision on my left breast. There had been a nodule discovered immediately beneath my nipple. I was blessed to have an excellent surgeon and she made her incision along the edge of the areola so that the scar wouldn’t show. I am happy to report that there is no sensitivity along that scar and my nipple has been just fine. Your husband will be “allowed” to go there in the not-too-distant future. Certainly my nipple was really uncomfortable when I had to wear the constrictive bandages in the beginning; the compression was a bit much, though necessary, I know. But the nipple itself healed just fine, as well as the scar at the areola. My assumption is that the surgeon intentionally cut there to diminish unattractive scarring elsewhere on the breast. He erred in not being more forthright about it, but I believe his intentions were good. If your atypia was only 4 cm from your nipple, there weren’t a lot of options. It had to be gotten to somehow.
      I hope in my saying that you do not feel unsupported. I truly believe all will be well. Try to rest in the knowledge that there will be a time when healing (both physical AND emotional) needs to take place, but in my inexpert opinion, there should be no reason why you should not be able to return to regular foreplay within a month or so.
      Take a deep breath and allow yourself to heal.
      Blessings to you. May you have wonderful sex and a healthy life very, very soon!

      • Jane Garcia at 1:44 am #

        Thanks, this was really helpful. Blessings to you and all.

      • TB at 6:47 am #

        I hope you are healing well! When I told my doctor my preference about incision location in our office meeting about my excision/lumpectomy surgery, he actually told me that I’d have to specify that *again* at the hospital on the day of surgery. (Oh, you mean when I’m blind with anxiety? Great.) As a PR/communications pro whose job is to make sure my clients’ wishes/requests/comments are recorded and acted upon the first time they share them with me, this made me feel like I was in the Twilight Zone. Whatever, I guess surgeons and their assistants aren’t big on taking notes? Luckily I remembered to tell them what I wanted at the hospital, having written down a list of questions in advance, but still. Irksome. I think that you are 100% justified in having been angry, but I’m not surprised to hear about the situation given what I witnessed of their patient relations protocol. Fingers crossed that you had a positive outcome. 🙂

      • cindygreb at 2:01 am #

        Hi Tracie. That is incredibly irritating that they would have the gall to ask you to tell them again. Hmph. Well, hopefully some doctors are better than others. And hopefully all went well for you. (It did for me. Thanks for the good wishes.) Blessings to you!

  33. KatieJane at 12:49 am #

    Thanks for sharing. While I’m blessed to be cancer-free, I endured a lumpectomy 2 months ago and still feel like I’m recovering in some ways.I also felt like my doctor told me very little about what to do and expect post-op, although she may have done so to avoid stirring up anxiety. Before surgery, she gave me the impression I would be healing and bopping around in a few days, but 2 weeks later, I called her when I still felt the need for painkillers. I was worried that I wasn’t healing properly, but she said it was normal. I had aching soreness spreading from the incision site, unable to lift my arms higher than my chest without pain, and achyness shifting, especially in bed at night. I tried to use common sense and take it easy while still trying to not be overly lethargic, and be patient. Its been nearly 8 weeks and my only real problem now is I can’t seem to get back to underwire bras. Before surgery, I wore them all the time, even to bed every night. I’m not big up top (a modest C), but always liked the support. Now, I can go about 12 hours before I ache and have to yank it off. No one ever said a word about not being able to wear these again, so I figured I’d be able to once I was out of the support bra. Yet while my tolerance of underwires has increased, they lay basically unused in my drawer for the most part.
    In addition, if a friend or family member of mine were going through something similar, I’d want her to know that the surgery is another part of the journey- not the end. Although my biopsy results were ‘negative,’ (thank the Lord) those results, coupled with my family history mean that I’m not out of the woods yet as far as being in danger of having another excision or developing a malignancy. I feel blessed and yet there is still very real fear of what may develop, especially having lost so many lived ones to cancer. My next step is more genetic testing. My heart goes out to the thousands of brave women who face what I’m desperately trying to prevent. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

    • cindygreb at 5:11 pm #

      Dear Katie Jane,
      Thank you so, so much for writing. I so understand all that you are going through!
      With regard to the underwires. My understanding is they are not good for us because they negatively impact the lymphatic system. I have struggled to find a good supportive bra without underwires myself. But someone finally referred me to a company called Woman Within. They make lots of affordable bras–mostly not underwire, and mostly for the larger-breasted woman. Thus far, it’s one of the few companies I’ve found where I can order a bra that works. And there’s free shipping to return it if it does not fit, I believe.
      So, bless you for caring about all the many, many women who have not been as fortunate as you and I.
      May you start feeling better soon, and better and better each day as your body heals. Don’t forget to nurture your spirit!
      I wish you well. Peace, health, and wholeness to you!

  34. Sandy Lind at 4:23 pm #

    Thank you so much for starting this blog. I was very fortunate that my lumpectomy was non-cancerous. I had mine three weeks ago. It was made up of two different lesions. One very small intraductal papilloma and a one-inch fibroepithielial lesion. Both of these were negative for cancer for which I am greatly blessed. I have been using an all cotton sports bra for the past three weeks 24/7 which helped greatly. I also noticed the nipple was very sensitive so to help cushion it more, I purchased cotton breast feeding pads. I inserted them in over the nipple area and it helped to reduce the pressure from the bra on the nipple. My surgery was around the top of the areola which is healing well on the outside. I do have the twinges and sometimes a deep pulling feeling from inside the breast. That’s when I take it easy and sometimes I still need tylenol in the evening. As many have said on here, it is a process. I have had two c-sections and this lumpectomy is worse somehow. I guess it is because it is not just a clean cut escape hatch, but a removal of tissue that needs time to repair itself. Our bodies do tell us how we are progressing and we must pay attention to them. Once again, thank you for the ability to share our experiences.

    • cindygreb at 2:09 am #

      Sandy, thanks so much for sharing this. The breastfeeding pads idea is brilliant!!! Thank you so much for that!
      So glad you don’t have cancer. I hope you’re feeling better now.

  35. Ruth Horowitz at 8:33 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I too had a duct removed and am also a massage therapist struggling a bit even 3 months after my lumpectomy to get back into the swing of work. They really didn’t give me much information about what post surgery symptoms would be and for how long they might last. They just told me to take 2 weeks off of work and return when I felt ready, but to take it easy. No heavy lifting.
    I’m finding doing a lot of self massage on my breasts everyday is helping along with steaming my nipple in the shower. About 2 months after my surgery I finally had some dried fluid move out of my nipple which has helped it feel much more supple and happy again.
    I’m just praying this doesn’t take much longer to heal. I still am sore if I massage more than 2 clients a day. My scar is finally starting to flatten, but I also had 2 lumpectomy surgeries to get clear margins, so my scar is rather thick. I also can not wear a bra at all now, not even to work out. I’m a large C cup and having any pressure on my nipple is still painful. But I think that’s a good thing as the surgical bra was preventing the lymph from draining out of my breast and my other breast started to swell as well. I also showered with a bikini top on for the first couple weeks, as having no support in the shower was incredibly painful. This they gave me no advice on whatsoever. I’m also still sleeping with a small pillow between my arms to support my breast because sometimes I’ll wake up with a sore breast of I don’t.
    I encourage women to share their stories. With all the fear I was bombarded with, especially from the health care community, hearing the experiences of others helped me get through the emotional roller coaster that this was for me. Take a deep breath, give thanks that it was found, and know that you have the power to decide what is best for you.

    • cindygreb at 10:59 pm #

      Dear Ruth. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry to hear that a bra is still painful to wear. Because I know not having support is also very painful. I wonder if you could kind of use an ace bandage kind of thing (a wide-ish one) to lift up your breasts from underneath somehow–almost like a sling. I actually had a dream once where my breasts were on a kind of shelf. Oh wait! Here is what I’d do! Get an old bra and cut out a hole for the nipple! That should help! (It actually feels kind of kinky/fun.) Or use a nursing bra!
      Anyway, thank you for all your encouragement of others. I wish y ou the best.

      • Tammy at 11:10 pm #

        My surgery was in February of this year and I still have pain, especially in my scar areas. I just had another biopsy last week same side, thank God it was benign this time. The healing process takes a while and somedays i can’t wear a bra. Hang in there

  36. Erin at 10:49 pm #

    Thank you so much for this. I’m 5weeks post lumpectomy and still feeling the sharp pains. I have large, dense breasts..and an active lifestyle. I just did my normal workout two days in a row, and my breast is letting me know it’s not 100% yet. Anyway, thank you for this!!

    • cindygreb at 2:05 am #

      You’re welcome, Erin! I’m sorry I didn’t see this comment sooner. Hope you’re feeling better by now. Blessings to you! (Do you have a really really good support bra?)

  37. TB at 6:21 am #

    Thank you for this! Very helpful, as I wasn’t given much info on post surgical expectations either. Grateful!

  38. TB at 6:34 am #

    Also, I meant to say that I found your blog while hunting for info on the sporadic, short, sharp pain that’s developed around my lumpectomy incision site. Surgery was 6 days ago, and weird sharp pain started last night. So helpful to read that this is likely normal. I *was* pleased to be able to stop percocet after 2.5 days. I was expecting to need serious pain meds for much longer. Phew! Noting this stuff in case it helps someone else, because reading everyone’s comments has been super helpful! Thanks, y’all!

    • cindygreb at 2:04 am #

      So glad that the serious pain was minimal. It was for me, too. I ended up taking it the next day kind of as a prophylactic, but I think I could have lived without it. (Interestingly, later I found out there had been a small earthquake that day and I never even noticed it! The friend who was with me did.) Talk to your doctor about the short sharp pain, though, just to be safe. (Are your breasts adequately supported? That can certainly make a difference.)

  39. Laurie at 7:16 pm #

    Hi, I am 41 years old and had a lumpectomy November 29 for DCIS in left breast. They also took tissue from my right breast to reconstruct the left during the same surgery. They also removed some Sentinel Nodes in the left armpit to see if the cancer had spread beyond the duct. They did tell my husband that during the operation, they discovered it was larger than they thought and had to remove more. It looks like they cut both my nipples out and put them back on. All 3 incisions are healing great and they are starting to itch which is a good sign. My issue is the tenderness on both nipples. I can’t stand having anything press up against them. Also, have really hard tender lumps in both breasts, feels like there are rocks underneath the skin…is this still swelling? Or is it scarring? Is it from the reconstructing they did? I called the Breast Care Centre and they said its all normal, as long as I have no redness or skin is hot to touch. Anything lumpy in my breasts is fear that something else is there that they missed or something is wrong. I understand its only been 2 weeks since my surgery but at one point I was feeling pretty good and now I feel I am taking many steps backwards. I do have my follow-up appointment on December 19, will have lots of questions then, and will also find out results of my Sentinel Node biopsies. No exercises were given to me either. I was told by a friend who went through the same as me a few years ago that stretching is a good thing but I’m not sure the proper way to be stretching without causing damage. It is too bad that the Breast Cancer website doesn’t specify on all these side effects that are possible after surgery. All they give you is care of the incisions and say there will be bruising and tenderness. Well no doubt….what about all the other symptoms. I’m getting frustrated, I’m one who is always busy but now, having these limitations is driving me crazy! My husband is great, he talks to me and keeps reminding me its only been 2 weeks…that I need time to heal…he’s my rock!!!! I just thought I’d tell my story and see if anyone has had similar surgery and side effects that I have. Thanks for listening!!! God Bless

    • cindygreb at 10:00 pm #

      Hello Laurie! Forgive the tardy reply. I hope you’re feeling infinitely better by now (Jan. 2nd.) As per the “lumpiness,” my strong guess is that that feeling is due to the scarring. When we have surgery on our breasts, our tissues suffer some trauma and it will take time to heal. I still have a tiny bit of hardness even 5 years later, and I believe it is simply inner scars.
      As for your nipples, it sounds like they went through quite a bit of trauma. One person (below) suggested using breastfeeding pads to give extra cushioning to healing nipples. I think it’s a brilliant idea! I don’t know if you are large, small, or medium-sized as far as your breasts go. If small, go without a bra if that feels comfortable, but if you’re larger, the support is really important while you’re healing. If the bra rubs against your nipple, it could be pretty uncomfortable. Therefore consider the breastfeeding pads (with a very slightly bigger cup, if necessary.)
      Please let me know how you’re doing!
      Blessings to you.

  40. Kimberly Bice at 12:48 pm #

    Hi Cindy, I’m 3 months after lumpectomy with 4 lymph nodes removed and still having little annoying pains, weird sensations and itching occasionally. I’ve also had a little bit of white/yellowish drainage from my nipple, do you know if thats normal? Also, I was just wondering how you’re doing now, and was yours cancer?

    • cindygreb at 9:54 pm #

      Hi Kimberly. Thanks for checking in.
      My guess is that your “annoying pains, weird sensations and itching” are “normal” and a result of your nerves and tissue healing. However I think it is ALWAYS good to notify your surgeon to make sure.
      To be honest, I don’t know if that drainage following your operation is normal. Does it leak at odd times? Or only with foreplay? Again, I would suggest asking your surgeon/physician, however I can tell you that when I went prior to my lumpectomy and excision, I was told that it was only a bloody discharge that was concerning. Per (who was it? Dr. Christine Northrup, I believe) one expert, discharge with stimulation is quite normal and not of clinical concern. But please confirm this with your clinician.

      And how sweet of you to ask how I’m doing! I had no cancer where my excision was and Stage 0 ductal carcinoma in situ where my microcalcifications and lumpectomy were. That was over 5 years ago. I’m due for a follow-up mammo, but the last time I had one, I was clear. I believe I still am. Thank you so much for asking.

      Blessings to you!!!!

  41. Sam at 12:13 pm #

    hey cindy im new here 🙂 and glad i found this blog ❤
    i have nipple discharges since i was 11 now im almost 30 years old
    i will have duct excision 28th of dec 2016..
    I've watched surgical videos and read alot about it.
    im not worried about the pajn as i can have pain killers but worried about the breast appearance and the nipple some ladies said they loss sense of it and it becomes numb.. while others said it will never erect.. im worried and so confused 😥😧

    • cindygreb at 9:46 pm #

      Hi Sam. Darn, I’m so sorry I didn’t see this before your surgery. Have you had it yet?
      If you haven’t, my most important suggestion is to make sure you are comfortable with your surgeon. If at all possible, get references from other breast cancer patients. I was so happy that several of my friends highly recommended my surgeon. And she had an excellent reputation.
      Secondly, fyi, for a little while, my nipple did list slightly to the side. If someone was looking closely, they might have seen that my left nipple was different from my right. But this “listing” resolved over time and now the only thing that is noticeable is the slightest tiny scar at the outer edge of the areola.
      Thirdly, I did not lose any sensation in mine. As a matter of fact, for a while that nipple was overly sensitive!
      I hope your excision is a success. May you be wonderfully well.
      Blessings to you.

  42. Kris at 12:17 am #

    This was very helpful. I had cysts removed three weeks ago. They were benign thank the Lord, but I’ve been feeling twinges of pain. One monrning I had to just take my bra off as is seemed to be irritating it. It’s comforting knowing it’s normal.

    • cindygreb at 9:42 pm #

      Dear Kris,
      I’m so very glad to hear your cysts were benign! Yay!
      My guess is your twinges are completely normal and nothing to worry about, but I always suggest you inform your doctor/surgeon anyway. This way 1) you can be totally sure, and 2) they can learn (if they don’t already know) that this is something that routinely happens. Maybe they can even start to give their patients a heads-up!
      Continued blessings to you!

  43. Claudia B. at 3:48 am #

    Great article- thank you. And yes, I agree with you, I was completely uninformed about what happens months after when the actual healing begins to take place. I feel a lot of that hardness around my areola section on my right breast even though the cancer was all the way in the back of my breast; so I spoke with my surgeon and she said it was scar tissue from the radiation 🙄 Nice for anyone to tell me of this possibility. So now I am back to feeling pain in my breast and I guess it’s just from the healing process. My surgery was 4 months ago. But like you, I am so very grateful to still have my tatas AND being Cancer free. Wishing you all the best.

    • Sandra Hill at 11:02 pm #

      It has been 3 years since my lumpectomy, but I still have hardness around my nipple area. However there is sensation and I remain cancer free. Thank God

  44. Hind at 7:32 pm #

    really good information, I had the surgery 2 days ago and I have no idea of what is waiting me. wish you all healthy life, thanks a lot.

    • cindygreb at 9:10 pm #

      Dear Hind,

      I know you had your surgery a while ago now. I hope that you have healed well and that you are cancer-free.

      Blessings to you!

      PS Please forgive the extremely tardy response.

  45. Paula at 1:27 pm #

    Hi, appreciate your blog. I had a lumpectomy the end of February 2017 followed by 3 weeks of intense radiation. My questions are, How long was your breast sore after basic recovery time? Am I looking at a year or does it ever feel normal again? I miss giving and getting firm hugs. Did you have to take or are you talking a hormone inhibiting drug like Tamoxifen? If so, any side effects?
    I was also not given any exercises to do or told to do about stretching out the shoulder and chest muscles.
    Hope you are continuing to do well and are continuing to stay cancer free.

    • cindygreb at 8:58 pm #

      Dear Paula, hi.
      I am mortified that I didn’t see your comment much sooner! So much time has passed since your wrote this! I pray that you have seen significant recovery in the last two years.
      Did you decide to take any hormone-inhibiting drugs? How did you fare?
      Regarding the exercises, I’m sure it’s a moot point by now, but it couldn’t hurt to ask to see a physical therapist.
      And thank you for asking about me. Yes, I am doing well and am still cancer-free. Thank God.
      Blessings to you!!!

  46. Magda Nebieridze at 5:49 pm #

    Your comments are so helpful to me now, I had lumpectomy two months ago and last two days I got those weird shooting and burning. I have talked to my doctor , he told me the same about the nerves growing back. Im so much hoping for the best to everybody concerned , including myself.

    • cindygreb at 9:04 pm #

      Dear Magda, hi.
      I’m so sorry I am just now seeing your comment. (I had an old email setting for this blog.) I hope that you have healed beautifully since you last wrote this comment. I wish you well!

  47. Maria at 5:14 pm #

    Thank you for your very informative blog. I just recently had a lumpectomy 2 weeks ago. Thankfully, things went very well and the margins were negative. What I am feeling now is a lot of sensitivity and itchiness on the breast. I imagine it is part of the healing process. Once again, thanks for the information.

  48. Megan at 12:17 am #

    So glad I came across this post. I had an excisional biopsy where I was put under (which I know isn’t the same as a lumpectomy) but after my surgery and even two months later, I’m having certain intermittent pains and other things and I haven’t been able to find much to help me. Every time I’ve called my surgeon, they just say yep that’s normal but no one will give me any info beyond that. My surgeon and her support staff are great and so is the hospital I had my surgery at. But it’s like no one whatsoever gives out much info on what should be expected afterwards. I was completely blindsided the next day with how much pain I experienced throughout almost my whole body. I’m even a medical student and have all the textbooks and resources imaginable and there’s just nothing. Everything just says that you should be fine and dandy in a few days…well, two months later and I’m here with intermittent pain and occasional discoloration (no infection whatsoever)
    I appreciate you posting your experience and info that you have received and I agree that there should be more helpful information out there about recovery after these types of surgeries.

    • cindygreb at 8:49 pm #

      Dear Megan,
      I am so very sorry to hear about how much pain you were experiencing. (And I’m sorry that I didn’t see your comment last year when it would have been more relevant!!!!)
      I hope so much that you are now pain-free and healing beautifully.
      And yes, I agree that biopsies can be very painful! The stereotactic biopsies I had (two) were both more painful than anything I had ever experienced!

      Meanwhile, I truly do hope that you are well.
      And good luck with med school. Hopefully your experiences will make you a truly sympathetic and helpful doctor in the future! We need people like you!

      Blessings to you.

  49. Merry at 5:01 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing this! Your blog here is the only article I found with helpful information! I had a lumpectomy very similar to yours in early November 2018. I commute to work about an hour away. We had some heavy snow weather on Wednesday and it took me 4 hours to get back home due to accidents and closures!!! The last couple of days I have had those stabbing pains and was wondering if the drive affected it because if the motion and tenseness if the drive.
    I know you wrote this many years ago, but thank you! And yes, why don’t the nurses or Dr.’s tell you any of this information? It makes all the sense in the world!

    Thanks again!

    • cindygreb at 7:28 pm #

      Dear Merry,
      I am so sorry to hear about the stabbing pains! I am guessing you are right that the tension could have created some of the pain. Also, I’m guessing pain would be exacerbated by gripping the steering wheel very tightly, which could impact muscles all the way up your arm and into your breast and neck. And certainly tension and anxiety makes everything worse!
      My suggestions are to do some deep breathing and gentle stretches and maybe just put in a call to your doctor to make sure.

      May good health be yours in the coming days, months, and years!!!

      • Laura at 3:53 pm #

        Thank you once again! My lumpectomy was 5 months ago and I have the intermittent internal pain that you mention, soreness in areas that are not next to the scar and am still blue. The surgery was a breeze and although I realized that it would take time to heal, I had no idea that that it would be this long. I have been quietly worried in the last couple of months but you have helped me realize that many of these symptoms are normal and I can now stop my imagination from running wild.

      • cindygreb at 8:18 pm #

        Dear Laura,

        I am so glad that my post helped bring you some ease. And, I still think it’s wise to mention your soreness to your surgeon/doctor. Even though most likely nothing is “wrong,” it may help them to hear that we worry less when we know what to expect! We need to help educate our doctors!

        Meanwhile, may you continue to be healthy and lead a vibrant life!

        All blessings,

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