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More serious problems following surgery 

If you think you may have any of these problems, attend the Emergency Department of the hospital, contact your breast care nurse or community nursing team to have the wound checked. Your specialist may need to be contacted to review the wound.

Wound infections occur in about one in twenty patients with a breast wound. If an infection develops, the wound usually becomes more painful. You may also see swelling and redness, and pus may be seen around the edges of the wound.

Rarely, you may feel unwell and develop a fever as a result of a severe infection. Wound infections usually develop over several days and are not emergencies. If you notice that the wound is becoming hot or red, or it becomes more painful, you should seek advice. Some wound infections require antibiotics and others may need the stitches removed to allow any collection of pus or fluid to be removed. If you’re prescribed a course of antibiotics, it’s important to finish all the tablets, even if the infection settles after only a few doses.

Sometimes the blood supply to the edge of the wound is not adequate to allow proper healing. This is a particular problem for patients who are smokers. If this problem occurs, it develops gradually over several days and isn’t an emergency. If this occurs, the edge of the wound in one section or along the whole length of the wound changes to a dark red or purple colour. This can usually be treated with dressings to the wound. If you’re worried about the edges of your wound you should ask your nurse or doctor to check your wound.

A haematoma is a collection of blood in the wound. It causes swelling and bruising of the wound. Sometimes a small amount of old (dark) blood can be seen leaking from the wound. Rarely the amount of bruising that occurs may require that the blood collection be removed in the doctor’s surgery or in the operating theatre. If you’re experiencing severe swelling with bruising you should ask your nurse or doctor to review your wound.

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