Axillary Breast Tissue Removal - Surgery, Before & After Result (2024)

Breast tissue forms the shape and size of the breasts. However, sometimes, it can develop in areas beyond the normal location of the breasts, such as the axilla (commonly known as the armpits), requiring axillary breast tissue removal. Axillary breast tissue (also called accessory breast tissue) can occur in approximately 2% to 6% of women and 1% to 3% of men.

Axillary breast tissue can get painful and cause discomfort. Moreover, the look and feel of axillary breasts can get bothersome for people. It can make the armpit fat appear thicker and lumpier, especially during pregnancy or before menstruation.

So, what is the solution to axillary breasts? Axillary breast tissue removal! Very safe and effective. Axillary breast tissue removal surgery can help a person eliminate saggy armpit fat. Continue reading to know the meaning, procedure, and recovery of the surgery.

Surgery NameAxillary Breast Tissue Removal
Disease TreatedThick and lumpy armpits
Benefits of the SurgeryRelief from pain,Reduced irritation,Improved mobility of the arms,Elimination of undesirable contours
Treated byPlastic Surgeon

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What is Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Surgery?

Axillary breast tissue removal surgery removes excess breast tissue from the axilla (i.e., the armpit). The surgery often involves a combination of liposuction and excision. However, these procedures can also be used alone to remove axillary breast tissue.

Anatomy and Physiology of Breast

  1. The adult breast is located on top of the pectoral muscle atop the ribcage.
  2. The breast tissue extends horizontally from the lateral border of the sternum (the flat bone in the middle of the chest) to the mid-axillary line (the centre of the axilla).
  3. A tail of breast tissue extends to the underarm area.
  4. The breast tissue is surrounded by fascia (a thin layer of connective tissue).
  5. The deep layer of fascia sits on top of the pectoralis muscle, and the superficial layer sits under the skin.
  6. The growth of fat tissues, lymph nodes, or the breast glandular tissues in the underarm characterises axillary breast tissue.

Who needs Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Surgery?

People undergo breast tissue removal surgery for both cosmetic and physical concerns. Anyone above 15 years of age experiencing utmost discomfort with sagging armpits, obstructing the movements of hands is an ideal candidate for axillary breast tissue removal.

How is Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Surgery performed?

Axillary breast tissue removal is an outpatient procedure. This procedure can be performed using various techniques, including.

  1. Liposuction: Liposuction is preferred when the lumps are small.
  2. Excision: The method is preferred when comparatively large masses can be removed through a small incision.
  3. Axilla Plasty: The procedure combines excision and liposuction to correct the overhang of skin and fat in the underarm area.

Please note: The selection of the treatment approach is based on the patient’s health condition, the results of the diagnostic tests, and the surgeon’s opinion.

The general steps involved in the axilla breast tissue removal surgery are as follows:

  1. The patient will be made to relax on the operating table.
  2. The anesthesiologist will put an IV line in the arms or hands of the patients for fluids and medications.
  3. He/she will administer local anaesthesia for liposuction or general anaesthesia to put the patient to sleep during the excision surgery.
  4. The nursing team will clean the surgical site with an antiseptic solution.
  5. The anesthesiologist will monitor the patient’s vitals throughout the procedure.
  6. The surgeon will mark the targeted areas.
  7. He/she will make an incision within the armpit fold. The incision will only be a few millimetres for liposuction or a little longer for excision.
  8. The surgeon removes the excess tissue with the selected technique through this incision while preserving every nerve, lymph node, and axillary fat pad.
  9. Lastly, the incisions are closed with sutures, and a dressing is placed on the wound.
  10. If necessary, the team may also place drains before suturing.

What to expect before and on the day of Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Surgery?

Before surgery and on the day of the surgery, the surgeon will provide several instructions to the patient for preparation. The patient will be told what to do and what not to do.

Before Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Surgery

Here’s what a patient can expect before the procedure:

  1. Consultation and Evaluation
    1. The patient will be advised for a pre-anaesthetic checkup.
    2. The doctor will evaluate the patient’s medical history.
    3. Based on the PAC results, the anaesthesiologist will decide the type of anaesthesia to be administered.
    4. Based on the diagnosis results, the doctor will decide the type of surgery to be performed.
    5. The patient must provide a list of all their medications, including prescription, over-the-counter, herbs, and supplements.
    6. After receiving clearance, the doctor will appoint a date for the surgery.
    7. He/she will briefly explain the surgical procedure, duration, cost, etc.
  2. Restrictions
    1. The patient must quit smoking and limit alcohol several weeks before the surgery.
    2. Before the procedure, the patient will be instructed to stop taking blood thinners and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).
    3. The doctor will also ask the patient to not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

On the Day of Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Surgery

On the day of the admission for the surgery, the patient can expect the following.

  1. The patient needs to come to the hospital before the scheduled time.
  2. The patient will be asked to sign the consent formalities.
  3. Comfortable clothes should be worn by the patient on when visiting the hospital. The nursing staff will also ask the patient to change into a hospital gown.
  4. The team will shave off any extra hair at the surgical site.
  5. The doctor will record the patient’s last meal.
  6. The anaesthesiologist will monitor the vitals, including breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
  7. The patient will be moved to the OT room.

What to expect after Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Surgery?

As the surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, the patient can go home on the same day. The patient can also expect the following while recovering from the surgery in the hospital and at home:

The recovery process in the hospital

  1. The patient will be moved to the recovery room and will be kept under observation till the patient comes to senses.
  2. Immediately after the procedure, the patient may feel slightly nauseous due to the effect of anaesthesia.
  3. The anaesthesiologist will monitor their body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels.
  4. The doctor will give pain medications through IV to manage pain.
  5. Once the patient’s condition stabilises, he/she will get discharged from the hospital.
  6. The doctor will give home care instructions.

Recovery process/expectation after hospital discharge

  1. The patient must follow all the instructions provided by the healthcare provider.
  2. The patient may experience some swelling, bruising, and numbness that will subside in a few weeks.
  3. The arm and shoulder’s range of motion may become restricted for some time as scar tissue begins to form around the incision. Thus, the patient must do the normal arm exercises as instructed by the healthcare provider.
  4. Incision Care
    1. Keep the wound clean and dry, and take good care of the incision.
    2. Wash the incision with soap and water and clean it with a dry towel.
    3. Wash hands before and after touching the incision.
    4. Unless drains are placed in the incision, the patient can leave the incision uncovered.
    5. Protect the scars from the sun for at least a year.
  5. Instruction for taking shower
    1. The patient can shower 24 hours after the surgery.
    2. Showering with warm water can help with relaxation.
  6. Activities to do
    1. Take medications as prescribed by the doctor.
    2. Do light walking and exercise to improve blood circulation.
    3. Wear a compression bra or garment for a few weeks to facilitate skin retraction.
    4. The patient can resume physical activities whenever they feel comfortable.
    5. The patient can return to work within a week of the surgery.
  7. Restrictions
    1. Avoid strenuous activities for about three to four weeks or until the patient heals completely.
    2. Avoid swimming, hot tubs, baths, and saunas until the doctor permits.
    3. Do not drive or consume alcohol while on prescription medicines.
  8. Diet: Include fibre-rich food, such as vegetables, fresh fruits, cereals, and whole grains, in the diet.

First follow-up appointment

  1. The first follow-up appointment is generally scheduled within the first two weeks after the surgery.
  2. During this visit, the doctor will monitor the recovery and evaluate the chances of complications.
  3. The doctor might also change the medication or advise the patient to continue with the previous medication for some more time, depending on the condition and recovery of the surgical area.
  4. The doctor will advise the patient for further timely follow-ups as well.

Benefits of Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Surgery

Axillary breast tissue removal surgery is safe, and effective, and offers several other benefits. The benefits derived from the surgery include:

  1. Relief from pain: Breast tissue in the armpit can cause severe pain. However, the procedure can help relieve pain caused by breast tissue in the axilla.
  2. Reduced irritation: A lump under the arms can cause excessive sweating. This can lead to rashes and irritation in the armpit region. Breast tissue removal surgery can reduce this irritation caused by sweating or clothing in that area.
  3. Improved mobility of the arms: The development of excess breast tissue in the axilla can restrict the movement of the arms and affect arm posture. Patients can move their arms freely after recovery from the surgery.
  4. Elimination of undesirable contours: Excess growth of breast tissue in the arms can lower the confidence of women to wear sleeveless dresses and clothes.
    Axillary breast tissue removal is an effective procedure to remove undesirable contours of the underarm and give women the freedom to dress as they like.

Risks and complications of Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Surgery

Axillary breast tissue removal surgery is a safe and effective procedure. However, like any other surgery, it has some potential risks, which include:

  1. Infection
  2. Scarring
  3. Pain
  4. Excessive bleeding
  5. Nerve injury
  6. Haematoma (blood accumulation)
  7. Seroma (fluid accumulation)
  8. Wound separation

When is consultation with the doctor needed?

The patient should call their healthcare provider if they experience any of the following:

  1. Red, painful, swollen, or hot arm, hand, breast or torso
  2. A fever of 101℉ or higher
  3. Do not get a normal range of motion four to six weeks after the surgery
  4. Swelling that does not subside after one week

Risks of Delaying Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Surgery

Axillary breast tissue can cause pain in the underarm, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If left untreated, breast tissues can grow and become even more problematic. Problems of delaying treatment include:

  1. Limited choice of clothes
  2. Poor arm posture
  3. Excessive sweating and stickiness
  4. Conditions like cysts, lipomas, or other skin issues may go undetected

Cost of Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Surgery

The cost of axillary breast tissue removal surgery ranges from Rs 40,000 to Rs 1,00,000. The cost can vary based on several factors, such as:

  1. Size of the lump (the cost of surgery increases with the size of the lump)
  2. The method used for tissue removal (cost is less when either liposuction or surgical excision is performed; cost increases when a combination of these procedures is performed)
  3. Type of hospital (cost is more at a private hospital compared to a government hospital)
  4. Duration of hospitalisation
  5. Surgeon’s expertise and experience

The following table shows the cost breakup of different components of the surgery:

Diagnostic tests (pre and post-surgery)Rs 3,500 to Rs 10,000
Hospital stayRs 2,000 to Rs 8,000 per day
OT room and ICU chargesRs 5,000 to Rs 10,000
MedicationsRs 3,000 to Rs 8,000
Post-surgery garments and supportApproximately Rs 3,000
Surgeon’s and anaesthesiologist’s feesRs 15,000 to Rs 35,000

Frequently Asked Questions on Axillary Breast Tissue Removal

What happens after axillary breast tissue removal?

After axillary breast tissue removal, you may experience swelling, numbness, or tenderness in the armpit area. These symptoms will subside in a few weeks, after which you will be able to see the results of the surgery.

Furthermore, the doctor will advise you to take a week off from work during the initial recovery period.

How long does it take to recover from axillary breast tissue removal?

While swelling after axillary breast tissue removal will subside within a week or two, full recovery from the procedure can take about one to two months. You can resume work a week after the surgery. However, it is best to avoid strenuous activities for about three to four weeks.

Does axillary tissue grow back after removal?

Since axillary tissue is not a tumour, it does not grow back once removed. However, if any tissue is left, it can probably grow during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

What does axillary fat look like?

Axillary fat, commonly known as armpit fat, looks like a small bulge next to the armpit. This collection of fat is separate from the rest of the breast.

Can axillary breast tissue be removed without surgery?

If the underarm growth is due to breast glandular tissue, it cannot be removed without surgery. The only options are liposuction, excision, or a combination of both.

However, if the underarm growth is due to fatty tissue, the lump size can reduce with exercise, a healthy diet, and weight loss. Some other methods for axillary breast tissue removal without surgery include:

  1. Injection lipolysis
  2. High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound

How many nodes are removed from axillary dissection?

There are three levels of axillary lymph nodes. Level I is located in the lower part of the armpit, level II is in the mid-axilla, and level III is in the upper part near the breastbone.

Generally, the nodes in levels I and II are removed during the traditional axillary dissection. Based on the physical exam, the surgeon will remove five to thirty nodes from levels I and II.

Can weight loss get rid of axillary breast tissue?

No, axillary breast tissue may decrease in size due to weight loss, but it will not disappear. Liposuction and surgical excision are the only proven ways to remove axillary breast tissue.

Can exercise reduce axillary breasts?

No, exercise does not make a big difference in getting rid of axillary breasts. Since the breast tissue is made up of some fatty elements, it is possible that exercise could decrease the size of the excess tissue. However, it is not a proven treatment for axillary breast tissue removal.

What are axillary breast tissue home remedies?

Some home remedies to affect the appearance and decrease the size of axillary breast tissue include:

  1. Hot water compresses
  2. Massage
  3. Vitamin-E capsules
  4. Charcoal compress
  5. Watermelon juice
  6. Lemon juice
  7. Contrast baths

What happens to axillary breast tissue removal before and after?

Axillary breast tissue is a condition that can cause discomfort and cosmetic concerns if not removed. However, after axillary breast tissue removal, you can move your arm freely, experience no pain, and wear anything you like without worrying about armpit fat.

How long does breast tissue removal surgery take?

Breast tissue removal surgery can take anywhere between three to five hours. Breast tissue is removed during breast reduction surgery which involves removing fat, tissue, and skin from the breast.

What do breasts look like immediately after surgery?

Immediately after surgery, the breasts are swollen, cone-shaped, and high on the chest. There may even be some asymmetry between the breasts.

Even when swelling subsides after six to eight weeks, the breasts may continue to take their final shape for up to a year after breast surgery.

Axillary Breast Tissue Removal - Surgery, Before & After Result (2024)


What to expect after axillary breast tissue removal? ›

Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Recovery

You should expect swelling to recede in around two weeks. Please avoid strenuous activity during this time to allow your body to heal fully. Exercise should be avoided for three to four weeks, but you will be able to return to work within a week of the procedure.

How long does it take to recover from axillary breast tissue surgery? ›

Axillary Breast Tissue Removal Recovery

The recovery time is consistent with both procedures, and swelling should recede within two weeks. It is advised that patients avoid strenuous activity or exercise for three to four weeks post-procedure, but you will be able to resume work or school activities within a week.

What are the risks of axillary breast tissue removal? ›

With regards to the axilla, there are a number of nerves (intercostobrachial nerves) that can be damaged or severed during the procedure. This will often lead to permanent numbness in the armpit, on the lateral chest wall and on the underside of the upper arm.

Is it necessary to remove axillary breast tissue? ›

We present a study of 28 patients who underwent surgical removal of their axillary breast tissue. From these successful reports, we recommend that axillary breast tissue should be surgically removed.

Will losing weight get rid of axillary breast tissue? ›

Armpit fat does not tend to fluctuate with hormonal changes and instead responds to your overall health and weight. However, if you lose weight, axillary tissue can also decrease, causing further confusion between the two.

Does insurance cover axillary breast tissue removal? ›

Unless there is concern about whether or not the tissue in your axilla is unhealthy, this procedure is usually not covered by insurance. It is considered cosmetic in nature, and the cost for removal may vary widely depending on the technique used and the surgeon's fees.

What are the postoperative complications from breast and axillary surgery? ›

Postoperative complications related to axillary surgery include seroma, infection, lymphedema, nerve injury, and reduced shoulder/arm mobility.

Can breast tissue grow back after removal? ›

Well the short answer is yes, breast tissue can grow back after surgery, under certain circ*mstances. It's more likely to happen to younger women whose breasts are still growing. Especially if they also have significant amounts of glandular tissue.

How long does breast tissue removal surgery take? ›

A mastectomy is an operation to remove a breast. It's used to treat breast cancer in women and breast cancer in men. The operation takes about 90 minutes, and most people go home the following day.

Is axillary breast tissue removal painful? ›

Is the procedure painful? The procedure is performed under anesthesia, so patients will not feel any pain during the surgery. However, some discomfort and pain may be experienced during the recovery period.

How common is axillary breast tissue? ›

The prevalence of accessory breast tissue ranges from 2% to 6% in females and from 1% to 3% in males. It is found less in Caucasians than Asians, with the Japanese having a high prevalence of around 5% [1]. They are often noticed when the patient has symptoms, either as swelling or with associated pain.

What are the side effects of armpit surgery? ›

You are at risk of long term swelling (lymphoedema) in your hand and arm after surgery to remove your lymph nodes in the armpit. This is swelling caused by lymph fluid that can't drain away. It can happen any time after surgery and radiotherapy to your armpit.

Can axillary breast tissue become cancerous? ›

Accessory breast development is hormone dependent just like normal breast. Breast cancer in accessory breast tissue is very rare. The incidence is around 6%. Most common pathology is invasive ductal carcinoma (50–75%).

When should I be worried about axillary breast tissue? ›

If you notice any symptoms, such as swelling and tenderness, or restriction in the range of arm motion, or are otherwise concerned, you should see your doctor. Symptomatic accessory breast tissue can be removed surgically if required.

What is the cause of axillary breast tissue? ›

Axillary breast is caused by the development of breast tissue outside of the normal breast area. It is most likely to occur in the axilla, or armpit. Axillary breast is not common. Data indicates that this congenital condition occurs in approximately 2 to 6 percent of women and 1 to 3 percent of men.

How long does it take to lose axillary fat? ›

According to personal trainer Jennifer Cohen, you don't need a gym membership or special exercise equipment to target this muscle. Doing these three exercises two or three times each week and reducing your body fat if it is too high, you should notice a difference in your upper arms in four to six weeks.

What size breasts qualify for reduction? ›

Most surgeons do not dictate or require a particular size to qualify you as a candidate for breast reduction. The most vital factor they consider is if the breast size causes you mental and physical health problems.

How much breast tissue needs to be removed for insurance? ›

Most insurance companies will want to know the weight of breast tissue the plastic surgeon believes he or she can remove during a breast reduction. This number may be 450 grams, 500 grams or 600 grams.

How much would it cost to get rid of extra tissue in breast? ›

A common excess breast tissue removal surgery at outpatient hospital facility in U.S. includes
UnitsAvg Cash price
Provider fee to remove extra breast tissue Standard Standard1$549
Outpatient Hospital fee to remove extra breast tissue level 1 Standard1$3,787
7 more rows

What is the most common complication of axillary clearance? ›

Lymphoedema The most serious complication from an axillary lymph node clearance can be lymphoedema. This is a swelling of the arm as a result of a build-up of lymphatic fluid. This is due to the damage caused to the lymphatic system, which can happen when we remove all the lymph nodes.

How long should suction drains stay in after breast surgery with axillary dissection? ›

The drain is subsequently removed 3 to 7 days after surgery.

How do you prevent lymphedema after axillary dissection? ›

Skin care
  1. Keep your arm, hand, and armpit clean. ...
  2. Moisturize your skin often.
  3. Take good care of the skin around your fingernails. ...
  4. Ask your doctor how to handle any cuts, scratches, insect bites, or other injuries you may get.
  5. Use sunscreen and insect repellent outdoors to protect your skin from sunburn and insect bites.

Does removing breast tissue hurt? ›

Reports indicate that 40 to 60 percent of patients who undergo mastectomy suffer from chronic pain — pain lasting longer than three months.

What does removing breast tissue do? ›

A mastectomy is surgery to remove all breast tissue from a breast as a way to treat or prevent breast cancer. For those with early-stage breast cancer, a mastectomy may be one treatment option. Breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), in which only the tumor is removed from the breast, may be another option.

Is it safe to remove breast tissue? ›

Axillary breast surgery is a safe plastic surgery procedure. However, to make an informed decision, you should be aware of the risks involved: Infection. Wound separation.

How long are you on bed rest after a mastectomy? ›

It takes time to completely recover from a mastectomy. According to the American Cancer Society, most women can return to their normal activities in about 4 weeks . However, recovery can be longer for some individuals, potentially taking months.

How long do you wear a compression bra after a mastectomy? ›

Typically, most patients will be required to wear a compression bra during their initial part of recovery (two weeks after surgery). At that point, you can switch to a compression sports bra but make sure to avoid anything with an underwire. This can be worn for another two weeks, day and night.

Do I have to wear a bra after mastectomy? ›

You will need to wear a supportive bra in hospital after your surgery and when at home. Some hospitals recommend wearing a bra all the time in the first few weeks. This can help to support the breast and reduce bruising. It can help to get some advice from your breast care nurse about this.

How long will I be sore after breast explant? ›

How long is recovery from breast implant removal? For the first one to two weeks after surgery, you will need to avoid some of your usual activities, such as driving. During recovery, you will need to limit strenuous activity and heavy lifting. Many people have tenderness or soreness for up to six weeks.

What is the most common axillary mass? ›

The most common axillary lesion is be- nign reactive lymph node hyperplasia. It is caused by inflammation of the lymph nodes or the adjacent organs, such as the breast or lung.

Is axillary breast tissue or fat? ›

Axillary breast tissue looks like armpit fat, but it isn't the same thing. Rather than being composed of fat, the axillary breast tissue is breast tissue that is out of the regular breast area. The most common location of this tissue is in the armpit (or axilla). This tissue is fibrous like normal breast tissue.

When can I wear deodorant after armpit surgery? ›

Do not use deodorant until instructed by your surgeon, as it may irritate your incision. (Usually you may resume in 1-2 weeks).

Is removing armpit sweat glands safe? ›

When sweat glands are removed from the underarm, there is risk of developing an infection. Patients may have soreness and bruising. These will go away. Permanent side effects also can occur.

How do you clean your armpits after surgery? ›

Use warm water only. Avoid using soaps or deodorant, as these tend to irritate the skin under the armpit area.

What does an axillary seroma feel like? ›

An axillary seroma may feel like a soft lump under the arm on the side of axillary surgery. If it is larger, it may show up as a bulge in the armpit. Your surgeon can diagnose a seroma by examining you and if needed by using ultrasound.

What are the side effects of axillary dissection? ›

Risks of axillary lymph node dissection

Tingling, numbness, stiffness, weakness, or lymphedema (swelling of the arm). It's important not to let your arm become weak and stiff as a result of discomfort and limited range of motion (mobility) after surgery.

What is the chance of lymphedema after axillary dissection? ›

Research shows that between 3.7% and 17% of women will experience lymphedema after sentinel lymph node dissection. You can learn about how to minimize and manage lymphedema in our Lymphedema section.

How common is lymphedema after axillary dissection? ›

The extent of axillary surgery and the number of dissected LNs also appear to have a direct correlation with the risk of lymphedema. In previous studies, the estimated incidences of lymphedema were 19.3%–24.6% in patients who underwent ALND and 2.2%–8.3% in patients who underwent sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB).

What is seroma after axillary breast tissue removal? ›

After breast cancer surgery, fluid may collect where tissue was removed. This swelling is called a seroma. It may resolve on its own over time, or it may need to be drained. Seromas may be uncomfortable and lengthen your recovery time, but they aren't cancerous.

What is the hard area under the skin after surgery? ›

A seroma, one of the most common potential complications after surgery, refers to the accumulation of uninfected and clear (i.e., serous) fluid under the skin. Seromas are usually found near the site of a surgical incision and can form soon after surgery or, sometimes, weeks later.

How do you prevent seroma after surgery? ›

Your surgical team will place drainage tubes in and around the incision to try to prevent a seroma. The drainage tubes may remain in your body for a few hours or a few days after the surgery in order to prevent fluid buildup. In many cases, the use of drainage tubes will be sufficient for preventing a seroma.

What are the bubbles under the skin after surgery? ›

After a surgery, fluid can collect under the skin near the cut the doctor made (incision). This soft, puffy area is called a seroma. It can be tender to touch. The incision may even have opened up.


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