Is It Normal to Experience Pain Years After a TRAM Flap Surgery?

Ask the DoctorThis week, Dr. Richard M. Kline, Jr. of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your questions.

Q: I had tram flap surgery 6 years ago for one breast in Atlanta at Emory with a good plastic surgeon. I am experiencing horrible pain under my breast and around my upper rib cage where it has been mostly numb for all these years. It feels like 1000 bees are stinging me all the time. It also feels like something has pulled loose. There’s a bruised feeling as well. I wonder if the nerves are just now growing back which is causing the pain? My breast is very heavy. Is it possible to “re-do” this breast to relieve the constant pain? Or is this “normal” after six years? I am miserable.

 

A:  I’m sorry you’re having so much trouble.

It is certainly possible that something could have “pulled loose,” although, as you might suspect, it would be a little unusual after all this time. Also, while there is no theoretical time limit on how long sensory nerves can take to grow back, it would also be unusual to have that process stretch out this long.

Probably the best idea is to go back and see your original plastic surgeon. She or he may wish to obtain a CT scan, MRI, or some other type of imaging study, depending on your physical findings. If nothing unusual is detected, she may possibly send you to a pain therapist for treatment.

Richard M. Kline, Jr., MD

The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction

 

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Comments

  1. Debbie Roland says:

    I’m sorry this lady is having pain. I sure wish you had told her to come on down to Charleston—- I know you can fix anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dr. Kline is the best and will forever be my hero.

  2. C. Radford says:

    I had mastectomy on right breast with free Tram Flap at same time 11 years ago. I have been having intermitent pain, pulling etc. My pain threshold is high, but this pain, it seems, there is no relief from. Is there any help for us who go through this?

  3. I had a TRAM flap reconstruction surgery in May, 2018 and it is now the middle of December. It has been just over seven months. I don’t have any pain really, just a tight feeling all the time and my whole abdominal area and breasts are still really numb. I’m just wondering how long it really takes to feel truly back to normal.

  4. I had bilateral team flaps 20 years ago. Recently I am having pain in my left breast with what looks and feels like a sack of fluid. Has anyone experienced this?

    • I’m sorry you’re having so much trouble.

      It is certainly possible that something could have “pulled loose,” although, as you might suspect, it would be a little unusual after all this time. Also, while there is no theoretical time limit on how long sensory nerves can take to grow back, it would also be unusual to have that process stretch out this long.

      Probably the best idea is to go back and see your original plastic surgeon. She or he may wish to obtain a CT scan, MRI, or some other type of imaging study, depending on your physical findings. If nothing unusual is detected, she may possibly send you to a pain therapist for treatment.

  5. Wendy Ashworth says:

    I had the surgery done in 2010, I am always having muscle spasms all the time. Sometimes so bad now I thought I was having a heart attack, because it’s on my left side. I really need to find out what is going on.

  6. I am having the exact same thing! I wake up at night from the discomfort on my left side; under my arm and along the top of the scar. I had a bilateral mastectomy in 2002 and have had little flashes of pain in my abdomen for years, but this is the first time in the breast area. I have been wearing a tight bra 24/7 but it still hurts. I guess I should call the surgeon…

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