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Fluid build up after Mastectomy

9 May 2012 18:30

Hi all, I had a mastectomy last Wednesday, and my drains removed 2 days after the op, which was great, but now i am feeling pressure where my breast was and it feels like there's some fluid building up. I contacted my Breast Care Nurse yesterday and she said if it continues to get worse then call her and she can arrange for it to be drained by the surgeon who did the op (apparently the nurses are not trained to do it).

Is this fluid build up normal? and do I have to keep having it drained or will it go away in time? Surely the body should get rid of it naturally shouldn't it? I'd love to hear from anyone who has or is experiencing the same problems x

Re: Fluid build up after Mastectomy

9 May 2012 19:25 in response to Gilly

Hi Gilly,

Good to hear your surgery went well. It is eleven years since I had my mastectomy followed by a build up of fluid - so much at one stage I thought my breast had returned (not really) I returned to the ward several times to have the fluid drained. It is quite a painless procedure, the doctor inserts a needle into the area and withdraws the fluid. A small amount of fluid is normally reabsorbed through the bodies tissues but sometimes it is too much and therefore has to be drained. As you are already feeling the pressure I would contact the nurse again and ask her to arrange for you to have it drained, it does not take too long and you will feel much more comfortable. I hope you are continuing to do your exercises as this also helps. Best wishes, Rodis.

Re: Fluid build up after Mastectomy

10 May 2012 14:24 in response to Rodis

Hi Rodis and thanks for your reply. I contacted the nurse today, she is getting in touch with the surgeon who will hopefully arrange to drain the fluid in the next couple of days...i hope so anyway as it's starting to get a little uncomfortable and actually looks like my boob is growing back! (if only).

When you had your mastectomy, did you choose to have reconstruction? i hope that's not too personal a question, it's just that i am being told to wait 6 months after my surgery before i have it, but that seems a long wait.

Re: Fluid build up after Mastectomy

10 May 2012 16:16 in response to Gilly

Hi Gilly, I have been told the same thing because my surgeon doesnt do reconstruction at the same time - I dont know whether that is a personal  decision on his part or whether its policy in the area i live in?  Sunny

Re: Fluid build up after Mastectomy

10 May 2012 19:28 in response to Gilly

Hi Gilly,

Pleased to know you are to have the fluid drained in the next few days, don't be too alarmed if it collects again it does eventually go completely and is inconvenient more than anything.

Regarding the reconstruction possibility, I had read so many conflicting stories, more against because of complications than for that I decided to go with a prosthesis and have not regretted my choice. I think age may play a big part in the process of deciding, I was sixty five at the time so cosmetically not too worried about appearances.

I hope everything continues to go well for you. Rodis.

Re: Fluid build up after Mastectomy

10 May 2012 22:59 in response to Gilly

Hi Gilly

Throught that i would say hello because i had the same problem-looked like it was growing back.They had to drain it a few times.Althrough it was not especilly physically uncomfortable i felt like my whole system had slowed down and i felt much better after being drained .It did not hurt.They were relucant to keep doing it because they want your body to learn to reabsorb and if they keep doing it,it can encourage it to keep producing.It settled down for me after a few weeks.

good luck

Re: Fluid build up after Mastectomy

11 May 2012 03:02 in response to grumpy

Hi Gilly,

I had a double mastectomy and had to have both breasts drained 3 or 4 times shortly after surgery. It then settled down and I had no need to return. My drainage was carried out by my breast care nurse.

Like Rodis, I did not have a reconstruction at the same time as surgery and have never regretted it. I stared using a  prosthesis six weeks after surgery and have since decided to stick with it. When I am at home, I frequently go around without a bra or prosthesis. I find this more comfortable when my breasts are sore. If I had gone for reconstruction, I couldn¿t do this.

Age certainly has a part to play in this decision. I was 62, and might have decided differently if I were younger.

I hope that you manage to get an appointment with your surgeon soon, as this is a painless procedure, but you feel so much better after it is done.

Jolamine xx

Re: Fluid build up after Mastectomy

11 Jan 2016 22:23 in response to Gilly

Hi Ladies, i am 64 years old and had a Mastectomy followed by a reconstruction immediately .six weeks ago. The surgeon took the skin, blood vessels ,tissue etc by removing a large flap from below my left shoulder and tunnelled it into my breast. He also reduced my right breast at the same time. The op was eleven and a half hours but was so worth it. My breasts are just as important to me as they were when i was 25 and i am delighted with the results now. I too, have been several times to the Plastics Nurses who drain it, it is quick and painless. The thought and the fear of the operation was horrendous, but i have come out the other side and don't regret anything. I defy the people who slate our National Health......they were absolutely brilliant, i could not have asked for more. Janie x

Re: Fluid build up after Mastectomy

12 Jan 2016 02:31 in response to janiepops10

Hi Janiepops,

Firstly, welcome to the Forum. You will find this a great place for help and support as you travel along your cancer journey. It is great to hear that your reconstruction went so well. I agree that, like most operations, the thought and fear of it is really quite scary, so many congratulations on having the strength to go through with it.

I would agree with you that the NHS have really come up trumps in dealing with my hospital visits and like you, I will not hear a word against them in that respect.

I am not usually cowardly, but in this instance, having had a double mastectomy, reconstruction would have meant taking two flaps from my back and I did not fancy this being done all at once!

The other option of taking skin from my abdomen was ruled out because of previous abdominal surgery, which has left me with a lot of scarring in this area. This meant that the skin there was unsuitable for grafting.

On the whole I manage quite well. The only exception to this is when I go swimming. Depending on which prosthesis I wear, I seem to find my boobs either round my neck or near my waist. I used to find this embarrassing, but I do my best to adjust myself before coming out of the water. I find that the benefits I get from swimming greatly outweigh any upset I’ve had in this respect.

Kind Regards,


Re: Fluid build up after Mastectomy

6 Mar 2016 21:59 in response to janiepops10

I feel the same as janiepops10.  I am 57 and am very active, including dancing.  My body is as important to me now as it was when I was younger.  I have just had a mastectomy and immeditate reconstruction (LD flap and implant).  All went well and I have regained excellent range of mobility.  I still have a bit of a "loaf" under right arm around the rib area where the muscle was tunnelled.  I had 4 drains whilst I was in hospital.  2 were removed after 3 days and the other 2 about 5 days later.  This was about 6 weeks ago.  Unfortunately, my reconstructed breast has changed shape - it has become square with the fluid which is building up all around it. I have seen my PS who said there was nothing to worry about and he taught me a massage technique which he said I should use for 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day.  It isn't working.  The fluid just keeps increasing.  I have a further appointment in 2 weeks but feel like my breast is going to pop like a balloon.  I'm doing my exercises and keeping active.  How can they draw fluid off with a syringe when I have an implant?