Scar tissue forms as part of the healing process after a skin injury. A scar is fibrous tissue made of collagen that replaces the injured skin.
The following breast cancer treatments can cause scar tissue to form:
- radiation therapy
Scar tissue can cause its own side effects:
- nerve pain or numbness if scar tissue forms around nerves
- A lump of scar tissue forms in the hole left after breast tissue is removed. If scar tissue forms around a stitch from surgery it's called a suture granuloma and also feels like a lump.
- Changes in breast appearance. Scar tissue and fluid retention can make breast tissue appear a little firmer or rounder than before surgery and/or radiation.
Managing scar tissue
If scar tissue is causing stiffness, pressure or pain, ask your doctor if physical therapy could help. In some cases, your doctor may recommend sugery to remove scar tissue that is very painful or stiff. You can also try these tips:
- Use creams, ointments, or gels to fade or lighten scars. These can be purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by your doctor.
Some complementary and holistic medicine techniques have been shown to ease pain associated with scars, including:
For more tips, ask the members of the Breastcancer.org Discussion Boards for advice.