Do I have metal clips in my tummy and breast and are they getting closer to the surface of my skin?

9 years ago I had a bi-lateral mastectomy and diep flap reconstruction. Since then I have experienced prickling along my tummy and breast scars when sunbathing which seems to be getting more sensitive.

Doctor Answers 2

You have clips after a DIEP flap procedure, but they are highly unlikely to cause any symptoms or problems.

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It is common for plastic surgeons who perform DIEP flap breast reconstruction to use small, inert, metal clips during the surgery to ligate (pinch off) blood vessels to prevent and stop bleeding.  These clips are anywhere from roughly one-third the size of a regular metal paper staple to about the mass of a staple.  These clips very rarely are placed close to the skin, and even more rarely migrate to the surface of the skin.  These clips are very unlikely to cause any symptoms, and are too small to be detected by airport metal detectors, and are weakly, if at all, ferro-magnetic, and so are compatible with MRI scanners.  The symptoms you describe are most likely due to the effects of UV light on the belly scars.

Houston Plastic Surgeon

Long term breast reconstruction

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Thanks for your query. Its a little rare for scars to be prickly for that long. Generally scars settle down a year or two after surgery. Is there a change in the size or colour of the scar?  Does it feel itchy? if you feel the issue is getting worse over time, i would suggest you meet your surgeon or any other board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist.

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