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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