ZocdocAnswersWhy is my skin on my arm and side scaly weeks after a mastectomy?

Question

Why is my skin on my arm and side scaly weeks after a mastectomy?

I had a bilateral masectomy three weeks ago and the skin on my arm and down my side/ trunk is dry & flaky.

Answer

A bilateral mastectomy is a significant surgical procedure. Hopefully you are feeling a little stronger every day. Skin changes after such a major surgery can be very frustrating. The question at this point is whether or not the dry and flaky skin is related to your surgery in some way or is simply an incidental finding. Either way, it will be important for a physician to examine the area so that he or she can help diagnose what might be causing the skin changes. He or she will undoubtedly want to ask you about the timing of the dry skin, any prior skin issues, and any other associated symptoms. It is certainly possible that you are having an allergic reaction to a product used during the surgery, possibly even the skin antiseptic agent. If you have recently changed detergents or skin soaps at home, this could also be a likely culprit. It will likely be helpful for you to discuss these findings with your surgeon at your next follow-up appointment so that he or she can assess whether or not skin healing is a part of your presentation. It is also possible that you may be developing one of a number of skin conditions that can affect anyone, regardless of whether or not they have had surgery recently. In this case, your primary care physician and/or a dermatologist will probably be the most helpful specialists. In the meantime, you can try using a lotion or cream to see if this helps the dry skin. A dermatologist may want to prescribe additional creams after examining you.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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