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Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by MCoaster on Feb 11, 2020 1:58 pm

Had  a bilateral mastectomy on Nov. 15th last year.   Problems with adhesions and cords which are being helped by visits to a massage therapist.   As my breasts were large the surgeon left me with what I think are called wings or dogears which look like mini breasts under each arm.   I feel as if I have balloons on my sides which not only look odd but also but get in the way when I carry things.   The massage therapist has suggested that I have further surgery to remove them.  My follow up appointment with the surgeon was in May but I have arranged a time to see her at the end of this month and knowing what others have experienced would be useful.

Many thanks and hugs.


Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by ACH2015 on Feb 12, 2020 10:39 am

Hi MCoaster‍ 

I am tagging ashconKims1961‍ and Wendy Tea‍ into this thread for you.

Hope it helps get you some perspectives.


Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by Wendy Tea on Feb 12, 2020 11:19 am

MCoaster‍  Hi Margaret,  I had a mastectomy.   My post surgery scar was 9 inches and now that the swelling is gone my scar is 8 inches. Because of the way the skin is pulled together and stitched, a raised "bump" remains at both ends of the scar. On the center of my chest, one bump helps create a cleavage.  The one under the arm was slow to heal. I used a barrier cream to protect the incision.  I used soft pads to protect the incision from rubbing as my scar healed.  Now that all the swelling has gone I still have a bump under my arm. I make sure it is tucked into my bra band. This has allowed it to flatten.  I think over time it will become less noticeable.  For myself,  a slight disfigurement versus undergoing another surgery,  is preferable.  My suggestion is to let your body heal for several more months because your body is still adjusting to your trauma.  Then you will know what your scar finally looks like.  I hope my comments help. 
Healing takes time and opportunity. Wendy Tea

Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by ashcon on Feb 12, 2020 11:26 am

Hi MCoaster‍  Margaret, 

That's great that you were able to bump up your appointment to an earlier date. 

Shortly after my surgery,  my surgeon said that I could return to have any dog ears "tidied up"  if I wanted. 
As it turns out, it wasn't a concern. I had fairly small breasts to begin with, so my 'dog ears" aren't very noticeable at all. 

mamaduck‍ and pho3nix‍ may also be able to offer some insight, based on their experience. 

I hope you get support and agreement from your surgeon to do what you wish.  Being confident in our new bodies is so important to the emotional side of our healing and goes far deeper than the physical healing from our treatments. 

Let us know what happens with the surgeon! 
---- "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." ----

Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by mamaduck on Feb 12, 2020 12:57 pm

Hi MCoaster‍ !

Thanks ashcon‍ for tagging me

Mcoaster - you are a few months ahead of me for recovery. Because I was large breasted and just generally a bigger person I really stressed to my surgeon my concerns about the dog ears under my arms. So far it looks like he did a good job with the dog ears but again, my chest looks awful. I have a very large concavity on my right side and a smaller one on the left. It was only a month ago that I had my surgery and I can not even fathom putting anything on my chest but as I heal and the weather gets warmer, I am worried about what I can wear. My chest looks like a turkey carcass. I did see my surgeon and he said just give it six months to heal and let the swelling go down. I have been trying to research more about going flat and have just joined the "flat and fabulous" Facebook page so I will asking for advice there. I'll let you know if I find anything out (or private message me and we could be Facebook friends!)

Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by pho3nix on Feb 12, 2020 3:30 pm

MCoaster ,  I had my bilateral mastectomy in August 2019. I had small breasts, so I didn't really have any issues with dog ears, but I'm in the midst of reconstruction, and they still look like a small child tried to make them out of Playdoh. In fact, I called them "the donut and the potato" for a few weeks afterward until I had a couple of expander fills (I had decided on reconstruction before the mastectomy, so they placed the expanders in right then). The scarring is fading rather nicely, and I use a mixture of coconut, avocado and hemp oil as a moisturizer. I make it myself with organic store bought oils, that way I can control what I put into it, and when your skin has healed up nicely, you can start adding things like lavender and orange essential oils. Even my surgeons have commented positively about the scars! I must say that I do have a fantastic reconstruction surgeon, and she has been helpful in easing my mind about the final outcome. I still have one more expander fill (there will be a total of 5 including this one, basically one per month), and then it's time for the final surgery to insert the permanent implants. She told me that although they may look a little wonky right now, she can make final adjustments during the final surgery where she can manoeuvre them into a better position. I have also noticed that my body is slowly adjusting to my new shape, and the skin is beginning to look better. It seemed so thin after the mastectomy, but it seems to be rebuilding itself.

I must say I am very surprised and delighted that my body is doing it's own reconstruction too! It's very difficult at first to be able to look at yourself in a mirror and not be saddened by what your poor body looks like after all that trauma, but don't worry. It will slowly (and it does take time) begin to reform. Maybe I'm a nut, but I do sometimes talk to my breasts and tell them how well they're doing now! All I know is that it makes me feel better. But as I mentioned before, it takes time. I am looking forward to my new implants, because - quite frankly - the expanders are NOT the most comfortable thing. I can constantly feel them in there, they make what remains of my breasts look square in parts, and they make sleeping on my side a complex procedure. I AM, however, glad that I made the decision to get the reconstruction after all. After all is said and done, I believe I will be happy with the final outcome.

Whatever you should choose to do, whether to go flat or to go ahead with reconstruction, you just have to ride it out for a bit. Your body will heal, even though it seems like it's taking forever. Personally, I would allow the surgeons to do what they need to do to make it more comfortable for you, providing you trust them implicitly, of course. This is your life and your body, so make sure you are happy and satisfied with your surgeons.  I figured that I'd rather get it done right even if it takes longer. I know it's difficult to make so many difficult decisions while you're going through all of this, but just try and follow what you really feel is the best course of action. Ashcon hit the nail on the head when she said, "Being confident in our new bodies is so important to the emotional side of our healing and goes far deeper than the physical healing from our treatments."

Love your body. It's needs you!

Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by WeeNelson on Feb 12, 2020 8:24 pm

MCoaster‍ I had a dog ear removed from under my right breast. It was like a spare boob under my armpit, it was hideous and it chafed. The surgeon referred me to a plastic surgeon; I had to wait a year after the end of treatment but the plastic surgeon’s office phoned me on my exact first anniversary date. I opted not to have reconstruction but I did get the dog ear removed.

Some plastic surgery residents did the operation, under local anaesthetic which was quite the experience. I have no regrets - two years later I still look at myself in the mirror and think what a relief that that ugly thing is gone!

Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by MCoaster on Feb 13, 2020 3:10 pm

WeeNelson‍   Thanks for the reply.   Your situation sounds very like mine and I have been told by my g.p. that most plastic surgeons like to wait for at least 6 months before they do any "tidy up", if it is still necessary..    My bilateral mastectomy were done by a general surgeon whom I saw only once, a week after the surgery, and I think that is part of what concerns me and it is why I turn to this site for input.  I suppose that no matter how much research you do before little can really prepare you for what is about to happen to your mind and body. 

Surgery under "a local" must have been quite the experience.   I had my first cataract surgery last week and even though there was no pain, the sensations and sound were interesting.   I'll know what to expect for the second one including my choice of music while they operate.  Gregorian Chants last time but am thinking about bagpipes for  the next one!

So glad that 2 years in you are happy with your healing.   Keep healthy and happy.


Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by MCoaster on Feb 13, 2020 7:09 pm

ashcon‍    Thank you for your post.   I would not be healing so well without the wise words and advice on this site.    How are you after your surgery and treatments?   I was fortunate that the DCIS was diagnosed early and needed no further treatment.    When I see the surgeon I will listen to  what she suggests about the wings but I am a little concerned that she is a general surgeon who may not have a lot of experience with them.    We shall see.....
Wishing you good health.

Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by JustJan on Feb 13, 2020 7:36 pm

So as I read the posts about dog ears and having to go back for more surgery, it seems to me that having a plastic surgeon as part of the mastectomy procedure would eliminate the need for two surgeries. I may have to contemplate a bilateral mastectomy in a couple of years (also have ovarian cancer and am on Lynparza for two years) and if I decide to proceed I will definitely ask that question.  
Strength doesn't come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't. - Rikki Rogers

Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by Lauren55 on Feb 14, 2020 10:28 am

MCoaster‍ I too had lots of extra skin left on my sides after my bilateral mastectomy.  I like to call them Angel Wings.  They looked like you would draw big droopy unhappy mouths.  I had them removed when I had my exchange surgery.  Wow, what a difference it made. There is still a but where the scar ends but nothing at all like they were.  I can put my arms down nicely against my sides now.   It required a little bit more recovery time but it was worth it.  I found wearing a bra very uncomfortable because of where the scars are but really I don’t need to wear one unless I want to look bigger than my implants.  I have a set of foobs that you adjust the amount of stuffing in them.  When I wear something that needs boobs to make it look good I can add my foobs and have about a C chest.  My implants give me about a B chest and being a larger woman they look like they are not there mist if the time.  I plan to start to lose my stomach fat this spring/summer.  The surgeon can only do so much, the rest is up to me.   I go in this March to see about my tattoos for my nipples.  It is a long road but I am nearing completion.  You will get there too.


Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by Treepeo on Feb 15, 2020 7:49 pm

Hi MCoaster‍,

I just had my bilateral mastectomy this past Tuesday.  Prior to the surgery, I asked about dog ears.  I was told that unfortunately, the surgeon would have to make a much longer incision to ensure I didn't get them. so we ruled that out.  As I just had surgery 5 days ago, I still have bandages and 3 drains, so I have no idea what I will look like.  But at this point, it is immaterial to me.  I am choosing to remain flat.  I belong to two online groups, Flat in Canada and Flat in Toronto and the GTA.  Both have been great sources of information, support and friendship.

Just before my surgery, I got confirmation that my breast cancer has indeed metastasized to my lungs.  So what I will ultimately look like pales in comparison.  I have bigger fish to fry.  At this point, I just want to heal from this surgery so I can move on to another stage of possible treatment.

I wouldn't worry about seeing a general surgeon, provided you feel comfortable with him or her.  And feel free to ask about their experience with this type of surgery.  If you are not comfortable with the answers you are getting, you can shop around until you find the right fit.

Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by ashcon on Feb 16, 2020 9:06 am

Hi Treepeo
I've been reading your posts for the last little while and just wanted to say "hello" and congratulations on getting through the bilateral mastectomy. 
I had my bmx in Jan 2018 and, like you, chose to stay flat. 

Have you started to scope out resources and support systems for MBC patients? 
There's some good info from CBCN here:
You have a wonderful attitude and I wish you all the best in frying those bigger fish 🐠.  
ashcon (Ann) 
---- "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." ----

Re: Post bilateral mastectomy wings/dog ears

Posted by Treepeo on Feb 16, 2020 3:45 pm

HI ashcon‍,

Yes, I joined an online group for people with MBC.  I believe you can never have enough information and/or support.  I learn a lot from these online groups.  And I am a firm believer in women helping women.

For example, one of the things I was worried about was how I would handle drains after my surgery.  But women posted pictures of what they looked like, and they also advised me about their own experiences.  And because of that, I wasn't as afraid to have the surgery when the time came.  And a few women told me they threaded yarn through their drains and wore then around their waist, and that is what I am doing.  I feel much more comfortable having them secured around my waist as opposed to pinned to my clothing.  So that was a great tip.

I know they don't like to do surgery if you have MBC, but my breasts and underarm hurt, and I was desperate to get rid of those tumours.  I am disappointed that I had to wait six months to get it done.  I wanted the surgery regardless of whether I was metastatic or not, but they wouldn't operate unless my lungs remained stable for all of those months.  Just before my surgery, a new nodule developed in my lung.  It makes me wonder  whether that was due to the delay in this surgery.  Having all of those tumours and lymph nodes sitting around getting worse could not possibly have helped my situation.  But what is done is done.  There is nothing I can do about it except move forward.  Once I heal from this surgery, I think radiation will be in my future.  Because you and I are triple negative, our options are somewhat limited.  So I am willing to give radiation a go even though it is a really scary option.  It's one thing to radiate lymph nodes.  It's another to radiation nodes and lungs.  Yikes.  The thought makes me break out into a sweat.    But I have to try.  It's not in my nature to give up.

As they say, one step at a time.  As long as I'm not in a lot of pain, I am down for almost any treatment.  Let's see what they suggest.