Shaving After Mastectomy – Lymph Nodes Removed

Shaving After Breast Cancer

In case you missed part 1: 5 Tips for Shaving After Mastectomy

Dear Black and Topless Readers: Part 2 of the Beauty After Breast Cancer Series: Shaving After Mastectomy has a few technical terms but please don’t stop reading. This is important because it can be part of the reason why shaving your underarms after a mastectomy is hard to do.

Mastectomy and Long-lasting Numbness

I was not told of every single thing that would happen the morning of surgery, and I definitely was not prepared for the process of nerve blocking my chest muscles before the surgeons began the mastectomy. The word subpectoral refers to your chest muscle. Think of when a bodybuilder flexes his chest (pec) muscles. This process I am about to explain happens underneath the pec muscle.

Medicine for Numbness and Nerve Pain 

Before I went into surgery for the mastectomy procedure, I went through one of the most painful procedures that I will never forget. It was called the Subpectoral block.

The two young (and cute) doctors explained to me that they were going to inject pain medicine under my chest muscle to alleviate the pain during and immediately after surgery. By having to use nerve and muscle blockers in surgery, I experienced complete numbness under my arm and my upper back for almost a year, affecting my ability to shave my underarm.

What is a Subpectoral Block Procedure? 

The term Subpectoral refers to the muscle under the chest wall. My doctors used a needle with an ultrasound to guide the pain medicine to reach under my pectoral (chest) muscle. Oh. My. Goodness. The doctors were very comforting as they showed me the ultrasound while guiding the needle through my chest.

The pain of the needle moving around inside my chest was so unbearable but what I really remember is how comforting my doctors were. They told me I was doing great and they were very confident. After what seemed like a lifetime (probably 5 minutes tops), my chest and arm were completely numb. As I entered the operating room, a young black woman introduced herself as my anesthesiologist and together we counted down…6, 5, 4…Snore.

It took almost a year for some of the numbness to go away. Long lasting numbness and nerve pain is something that I was not prepared for. And as you know, the doctors never tell you everything. Ladies, do you remember going through this the morning of your surgery? Comment below and share your experience with us.

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