A large percentage of my client base are patients who have gone through various types of breast surgeries. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been seeing more patients who are seeking help with a complication that can develop after having breast surgery. Fat necrosis. Since I’ve been seeing more of these types of patients I thought it would be a good idea to let others know that yes, massage can help.
Fat necrosis is a complication when an area of fatty tissue is damaged and forms into a firm lump. It can be a complication post breast reconstruction using autologous tissue (a flap of your own tissue), breast reduction, fat grafting, radiation or trauma. The lump(s) can be as small as a pea or quite large taking over a good portion of the breast. The lump is not usually painful however it can cause discomfort as the tissue can be quite hard. It may also alter the esthetic look of the breast which can be very discouraging to patients. For individuals who have been through breast cancer, these lumps can cause anxiety making the individual think that it’s a cancer recurrence. For these reasons, a person may seek out treatments that can help improve the fatty necrosis.
Various types of massage techniques can help to reduce the size, improve the feel of the fat necrosis, and improve esthetics. It’s treated like scar tissue which requires firm pressure and moving the tissue in multiple directions. Can massage get rid of the fat necrosis completely? The results vary for everyone and how large the “lumps” are to start with. It’s also dependent on whether or not the tissue has been radiated as well. Radiated skin is more difficult as the skin is permanently changed post radiation and tends to feel more firm in general. However, even with irradiated skin, I’ve seen improvements in the overall tissue health post massage.
A common question I get is “How long will it take to improve?”. This is a difficult question to answer as no two cases are the same. Everyone responds differently to the treatment. I usually recommend 3-4 massage treatments to start and then re-assess the tissue to see how the patient is responding to the treatment to see where we go from there.
If you have been diagnosed with fat necrosis and are seeking treatment or answers to your questions around treatment, feel free to reach out. I’m here to help!
Karen Kingsley, Registered Massage Therapist