What Should I Do If An Abnormal Lymph Node Has Been Detected?

This week, Dr. Richard Kline of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your questions.

Q: My sister had breast cancer. She completed DIEP flap surgery and a lymph node transfer. A knot has now appeared under her arm. She had a sonogram completed and found an abnormal node. I am really concerned that my sister’s lymph node has died or the cancer has returned. Your insight would be greatly appreciated!

A: We have not run in to that scenario (yet), but I can offer some thoughts. When we transfer lymph nodes we move only a very small amount of tissue (typically 15-20 grams), and even if it dies, it’s unlikely it would be noticed. If more tissue is transferred (as in, a lot of fat with the lymph nodes), and it dies, it could well produce a “knot” as you describe. This would typically become evident a few weeks after surgery, or possibly a little longer. If your oncologist or surgeon is concerned, a PET scan would probably differentiate dead tissue from active cancer in this area.


Q: How long after breast reconstruction do I need to wait to drive a car?

A: After flap surgery we usually recommend waiting at least a month, but everyone is different. If you’re having implant reconstruction, you may well be able to drive much sooner.


Dr. Richard M. Kline, Jr.

Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction

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