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Treatment for Breast Pain after Reconstructive Surgery?

If you had breast surgery for breast cancer, such as a lumpectomy, mastectomy, or lymph node removal, and are still experiencing pain, you’re not alone. Recent studies indicate between 25-60% of women have some degree of pain or uncomfortable sensations in their breast even years after breast cancer operations.  

This ongoing, chronic pain can disrupt your life and make everyday tasks, including sleeping, a challenge. The good news is that at Anthony Echo, M.D., with two offices in Houston, Texas, our board-certified surgeon, has the skill and expertise needed to restore your quality of life and reduce your pain through breast pain surgery.     

Keep reading to learn what’s involved with breast pain surgery and how it can help you find relief. 

Understanding pain after breast cancer surgery

When you have breast cancer surgery to remove cancerous tissues, it’s normal to experience pain as you recover. But when the pain or discomfort lasts for months or even years, you likely have a condition called post-mastectomy pain syndrome (PMPS). 

Despite the name, even patients who had breast-conserving surgery, like a lumpectomy, can develop PMPS. Common symptoms of PMPS include:

While most women say they aren’t severe, these symptoms are definitely uncomfortable and can interfere with your quality of life, causing pain and distraction that make it challenging to sleep. 

Because PMPS occurs most frequently when tissue is removed from the underarm area or upper, outer portion of the breast, researchers believe it develops when nerves severed during surgery create a hypersensitive collection of tissue called a neuroma

Treating breast pain caused by PMPS

If you’re experiencing chronic pain after breast cancer surgery, don’t wait to speak to Dr. Echo. Early treatment gives you the best chance to experience significant relief. 

A nerve block in the clinic might be necessary to help diagnose an injured sensory nerve. These nerves usually reside along the ribs on the outer portion of the breast. Palpating along the ribs will often identify a few areas that are very painful, and these are usually the injured nerve endings. If after an injection, the pain is better or completely gone, then surgery might be an option to excise and re-route the nerve into a deeper portion of the muscle. 

If you’re a candidate for breast pain surgery, Dr. Echo uses his extensive training and experience in peripheral nerve and microsurgery to re-route the affected nerves to end your pain and discomfort.

The procedure involves an incision along the side of the reconstructed breast to identify the nerve bundle (neuroma) and the removal of the affected nerve endings. Dr. Echo then re-routes the affected nerves to your muscle tissue or connecting it to a small motor nerve through a procedure called targeted muscle re-innervation (TMR), preventing another neuroma from forming. The TMR procedure has been instrumental in helping prevent a neuroma from forming again. 

What to expect after breast pain surgery

The majority of women with chronic PMPS report a significant decrease or complete resolution of their pain following breast pain surgery. The surgery isn’t failsafe, however, and while not common, the possibility exists that you may not experience improvement. 

For most of Dr. Echo’s breast pain surgery patients, their pain sensations improve as soon as the day following surgery with any surgical discomfort being noticeably different than the PMPS symptoms. You can expect to heal from breast pain surgery within a few weeks.  

If you’re struggling with chronic pain after breast cancer surgery, don’t wait to seek help. Contact the team at Anthony Echo, M.D. by calling the Houston, Texas, office nearest you to schedule a consultation. You may also request an appointment online at your convenience.

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