How long a recovery time for WLE and SLNB?

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12/31/2010 5:52pm
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Replies: 29

Was wondering what your recovery times were like for the wide local excision and sentinel lymph node biopsy.  Am having mine done at Lee Moffitt (Dr. Zager) in Tampa, Florida on January 13 or 14.  WLE is mid back, SNB is either under arm or neck area.  They say six weeks for total recovery, but that some people are ready to go back to work in just a couple of days.

Thanks, Happy New Year!

Pennie

embrace the positive

Hi. My sentinal node biopsy (January 2010) was on my neck, right behind my ear. The actual recovery wasn't too bad, no drain tube, only an inch or so incision. Overall recovery time may have been 3 weeks. I still have total numbness behind my ear and most of my outer ear. That is normal due to nerve damage with the surgery.

My Wide Local Excision was on my scalp and included a skin graft. Since the nerves on that area of my scalp were all removed, I had no pain there after surgery. Just ugly permanent baldness and a scar. So this may not be anything like a back WLE.

Happy HEALTHY New Year!

Nicki, Stage 3b

Be strong and take heart, all you who HOPE in the Lord. Ps. 31:24

Hi Pennie,

I had a SNB (axillia and elbow) 2+ years ago and found that it wasn't difficult at all.  I was sore for a few days, but as long as I kept my arm still, I was fine. 

My primary WLE was on the back of my hand, so I had a skin graft there, but I've had numerious WLEs on my back, and I've not found them to be very painful, at all after the initial day or two.

Trust your WLE and SNB will be pain, hassle (and most importiantly) cancer free.

Julie

Hi and Happy New Year!

My wide excision was middle left back and the  sentinal lymph biopsy was of the left axilla.  Truly, the back did not hurt at all, although there were some weird nerve sensations.  The axilla was irritating if touched by clothing, and the doc did have to drain some fluid.  The whole deal was wonderfully easy.  All of that took place in the middle of  November, and because the biopsy came back with spread to one of the two nodes removed, the complete lymph dissection was recommended. That took place two weeks ago today.  Again the pain is not much to deal with, but I do still have a drain, and that is driving me crazy!  Also, I had an emergency appendectomy four days before the lymph node dissection. (That was way more painful!)   I am trying very hard not to whine, because the lymph nodes were 10 of 10 negative for melanoma, but I truly HATE this drain! 

I am a retired teacher, but I am sure I would have been back at work within a week of the excision and SNB.  Good luck to you, Pennie.  I hope it goes as easily for you as it did for me.

Best wishes to everyone for a healthy 2011!

Vivian

Depends on what you do for work.  I was ready to do light things. like an office job, after a few days and certainly one week.  My SLB was under arm.  If you job entails lifting or too much streaching I'd wait for stiches to come out then you'll be as good as new.  That should be about 10 days. 

 

Good luck!

Mary

Stage 3

Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.

Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences with me.  We have a three hour drive home, so that may prove to be the tricky part, though I imagine I'll be on pain meds at that time.  They give vicadin for pain, I've never taken it but hear it works well.

I'll have a toast to good health for all of us!

Take Care, Pennie 

embrace the positive

HI Pennie,

 

I had a mid upper back lesion WLE and SLNB in both right and left armpits on Dec 22. I have had no problems with my 6 inch long vertical back incision, except I had to be really carefull to not reach both arms foreward or bend over...get a reach stick, it will help!

I was told that is I popped the stitches by reaching too far forward, the recovery would be much longer, as the skin was stretched tight.

My biggest complaint is that my left armpit is very sensitive, almost feels like nerve pain. Sometimes this sensation goes down to my elbow. I have a 5 inch incision there.  It is getting a bit better each day but I have been surprised that it is taking this long to feel better. This particular side had 5 nodes removed. The right arm pit incision is giving me no problems at all.

 

We also drove home in 3 hours (due to a snowstorm). The meds help. Be sure to not wait too long to take the meds. follow the prescription keeping in mind that pain meds work best when taken at the onset of pain. Drink lots of fluids as the meds can give you cotton mouth.

 

Oh...and everyone is different so this may not affect you, but I had some swelling on the outer side of my left breast, so much so that I bought a sports bra, one band size and cup size  larger  for this temporary time as my regular bra was quite uncomfortable.

I work in a school so I am just going back to work tomorrow after Christmas break. I have to say that I needed this full 2 weeks.

 

I go Tuesday for my follow-up and hopefully the results! 

 

Joan

I will not stress over the things I cannot change

Hi Joan,

I hope your left arm feels better soon, I have read about others having a burning pain from the SLNB.  Please let us know after you have your results.

Thanks so much for the tips, I too am concerned with getting the meds before the pain ensues.  Years ago I had dental surgery, the trip home was an hour and a half. Mid-way the numbing started to wear off (no meds), I was in excruciating pain.  That will not happen again, believe me!

Where do I get a reach stick at?

Take care, hope to hear that you are doing well.

Pennie 

embrace the positive

HI Pennie,

You really only will need the reach stick if you are short like me :) . My hubby had a spinal fusion a few years ago and we got all the paraphenalia (reach stick, sock putter onner, etc) at the local pharmacy that also was a medical supply house.

 

After reading (probably too much) I am thinking that the burning may be from fluid accumulation. Today I will talk to the doctor about that. I am hoping for the results today.  I will report back!

 

Joan

I will not stress over the things I cannot change

I had  sent. lymph nodes removed from my neck...because there isn't a lot fo skin there and because they did a lot of deep cutting and into a few muscles...I had a difficult time...to this day...10 years later I still have trouble turning my neck as far as it used to go and I also have some numbness and odd pains at time...as far as the other excisions they were more like conking your head and getting a couple stitches..you have some nice medications to take you home...just sleep all the way and you should feel really good when you get home!! Good luck!!

Advocate for your own treatment.. Stage 4 Melanoma NED Surgery,Radiation, Temodar 300Mg July 2009-March 2010, then Thorocotomy...now "Phase I Study of Anti-PD-1 Human Monoclonal Antibody MDX-1106 and Vaccine Therapy"

Oh goodness Lynn, I’m so sorry, you sure have been through a lot.

Joan, I hope your appointment went well.

Take Care All,
Pennie 

embrace the positive

Hi Pennie,

I had good news yesterday. Of the 10 nodes taken(I thought there were 8 taken originally), there were none with melanoma cells!

Now I will be on surveillance every 3 months with my dermatologist near my home and every 6 months at the Melanoma Clinc at Mass General Hospital. I will see the oncology surgeon in another 6 months as well. I am feeling very positive but must keep my guard up as the SLNB is not a 100% guarantee of no cancer cells in the body.

Buy yourself a large hand held mirror so that you can examin your back more easily in front of a larger mirror!

 

Joan

I will not stress over the things I cannot change

Wonderful Joan, so happy to hear that!

Does your underarm feel better?

Sounds like they have you on a good regimen and follow-up schedule.

I will definitely get one of those mirrors too.

Take Care, Pennie

embrace the positive

Still sore and a lttle swelling near the breast tissue on that one trouble side but it gets a bit better each day. I resumed "normal activities" yesterday and  started on the elliptical but without the arm motion per doctors instruction. Still need to wait another 2 weeks for that.

 

Keep the faith, Pennie and best of luck with your procedure!

 

Joan

I will not stress over the things I cannot change

I would consider what I have been through as nothing compared to others..I am stage 4 NED so nothing I have been through really matters and is worth it all...it's all about living!

Advocate for your own treatment.. Stage 4 Melanoma NED Surgery,Radiation, Temodar 300Mg July 2009-March 2010, then Thorocotomy...now "Phase I Study of Anti-PD-1 Human Monoclonal Antibody MDX-1106 and Vaccine Therapy"

So true Lynn, it is all about the living-peace and happiness to you :)

embrace the positive

hi Pennie.

Moffitt has an in house pharmacy that you can get ur meds filled at before you leave, so hopefully you wont be in any pain on the way home.

am i understanding that this is an out patient procedure?

if so, wal-mart usually carries the reacher sticks if you need it.... its usually by the checkouts.

i hope all goes well and that you handle any pain you may have with flying colors.

my snb site didnt hurt at all, but it was in the groin area, not underarm area....and that was no pain compared to having a big chunk of my ankle cut out, then grafted.. which also meant another site on my thigh where they took the graft. i will pray for you, and again.... feel free to ask me for anything if you need it. i am close to moffitt and can help if you need anything.

 

dawna

Hi Dawna,

I remember you from the one other post that I wrote re: Moffitt, you have been very helpful, thank you.

They say that most people can go home the same day.  I'll know more on Tuesday after my appointment with the thoracic Dr.

I hope you are doing well :)

Take Care, Pennie

embrace the positive

Pennie,

Can I ask why you are seeing a thoracic doctor?

 

Joan

I will not stress over the things I cannot change

Hi Joan,

The scans showed a nodule on my lung, my local oncologist set me up for a chest X-ray in six months to look at it again.

However at Moffitt, they said a regular X-ray is not definitive enough, so they have me going back to Moffitt on Tuesday for a pulmonary function test and to meet with a thoracic Dr.  If anything needs to be surgically done with the lung, they will do that on Friday also.

Will be glad to get over this hump :)

Pennie

embrace the positive

I wish you the best, Pennie. I will be praying for good results and a quick recovery. Don't hesitate to contact me.

Joan

I will not stress over the things I cannot change

Thank you so much for your support Joan, appreciate it

Pennie

embrace the positive

I had three appointments and was at Moffitt for seven hours yesterday, couple that with six ours of driving time, what a long day!

The nodule they thought was on my lung may not actually be on my lung.  The thoracic oncologist said the it looks like it could be a tumor growing on the bone by the lung.  So anyways, nothing will be done with that on Friday.  I have to go back for scan whenever my follow-up for WLE, SLNB surgery is.  They tried to squeeze me in for a scan yesterday, but radiology was incredibly backed up, out into the hall!

They tried to draw blood from an artery (not a vein) in my wrist to measure oxygen levels in my blood and my BP dropped, I turned ghost white and was just about to hurl, so they had to stop that test.  It took me about an hour to recover from that.  The results from the pulmonary function test were very good though - 106%!

My last appointment was pre-op, so I am ready for surgery on Friday.  I'm waiting on a phone call for the exact time.

I'm hoping I only have to take vicodin (sp?) for a day or so after the procedures, then maybe switch to ibuprofen or something not so strong.  We'll see.

Hope all is well, take care :)

Pennie

embrace the positive

HI Pennie,

I am sorry you had such a difficult time with the blood draw.  I hope surgery goes well on Friday and know that I am thinking of you.

Don't skimp on your pain meds. remember that pain medication works best when taken at the onset of pain. Be comfortable!

Be sure to post back and let me know how you are doing.

Take care,

Joan

 

I will not stress over the things I cannot change

Pennie,

Thinking about you today. Praying your surgery goes well and that you feel ok afterward. Please let us know how you are doing and any news you find out.

 

DJ

I came home the same day even though I had a really hard time coming out of the anesthesia.  I don't remember too much other than I had chills, nausea and pain, all of which they gave me injections for.   A heated blanket would have helped with the chills and probably ginger ale would have helped with the nausea, but I was too out of it to request those things.   All those injections made me so I could barley hold my head up.  Dr. Zager said he spoke to me after surgery which I have no recollection of.

The WLE is fine, the SLNB is tender and painful.  They put dozens of stitches on the inside and used a medical super glue to hold the outside together.  The stitches dissolve eventually as does the glue.  There is bruising around the outer part of the SLNB.  My throat is still sore, I guess from the breathing tube during surgery.

Anyways, I am doing okay, I tried to go off the meds yesterday but that was too soon.  I am still on vicidin, hope i can go off it soon, it is great for pain, but hate the way it makes my head feel.

Pennie

p.s. I thought we could connect individually with each other through private message here, but I don't see that feature, my email is pennie@cfl.rr.com

embrace the positive

Pennie, I sent you an email...please be sure to rest up!!  I am so glad this is over with for you and I pray that your nodes are clean. Don't do too much too soon!

 

Take care,

Joan

I will not stress over the things I cannot change

Thank you, I replied back.  Am doing good, the SLNB site gets a teeny better each day.  I went off the vicoden 3 days after surgery.  I have it if needed and am subbing with ibuprofen as needed.   

embrace the positive

I put a small pic of my WLE on my flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ladiesblend/5365306538/

The underarm SLNB is still too gory for me to look at.

Am resting comfortably, off the vicodin for 12 hours now.

Pennie

embrace the positive

Pennie et al

I can't tell you much I appreciate all your posts. We are all on the same journey; just at different places. I was diagnosed on Dec 26. And will have a larger excision and sentinel lymph node biopsy on Thursday. I have run the gamut of emotions over the past 3 weeks. I am sure everyone on this forum has done this as well.

I pray for al of us that we will be able to face this life challenge with courage and most importantly hope.

Thanks everyone