Q. After mastectomy, why is there tightness around the arm?

Answered by Dr. Payas Joshi and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.


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Hi doctor,

Before seven months, I had a mastectomy. During which, I had my lymph nodes taken out of my armpit. I had exercises to do, which helped ease the tightness in my arm. Only in the last two weeks or so, I have noticed a tightness in my hand on the same side of the operation. It feels a bit tight and swollen. I have attached a photo. What could this be?

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Dr. Payas Joshi
Child Health, Paediatrics


Welcome to icliniq.com.

  • It is most probably lymphedema. It occurs as your lymph nodes are taken out, which helps in the drainage of lymph.
  • Are you doing your exercises regularly? This can be prevented by proper exercises that your doctor must have told you.
  • Keep your arm at a height above head so that it gets drained by gravity. Compression bandages can be used.
  • Take a low salt and high protein diet. Do not wear tight clothes, in particular on that side.
  • Usually, it gets relieved by the above methods. If not, then you should see your doctor for proper examination.

For further information consult a general practitioner online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/general-practitioner


Hi doctor,

I am still a bit confused and worried. Does this condition happen if you have new cancer?


Dr. Payas Joshi
Child Health, Paediatrics


Welcome back to icliniq.com.

I understand your concern.

  • This condition is very common after nodes removal, so most probably it is because of that only.
  • I would suggest you meet a physiotherapist who can help in graded compression bandages and massage therapy to decrease such swelling.
  • I do not think it as cancer growth. Please visit your surgeon who can examine you directly to see for other causes if any.

For further doubts consult a general practitioner online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/general-practitioner

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