Itching after mastectomy. Any suggestions?

I had a mastectomy in August 2014. Last night for more than an hour and off and on today, I've had horrific itching sensations where I'm forever numb. I was brought to tears last night unable to 'scratch' the itch. Any advice for addressing this? I've had itching in the past but nothing like what I'm going through now. Thanks!

Doctor Answers 4

Serious itching after breast surgery.

Most of the time itching can be controlled by topical or oral steroids, cool compresses, or antihistamines after surgery. In more significant cases neurologically active drugs like Neurontin may be used.


Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Intense itching one year after mastectomy

Thank you for your question about your mastectomy.

I am sorry - it sounds like a pretty bad night!
  • Your description suggests that the nerves are returning - which they can do this late after surgery.
  • The result is 'dysesthesias' - unpleasant nerve sensations of which itching in one.
  • Contact your breast surgeon and ask either for a prescription to control the pain or referral to a neurologist who can prescribe such medicines.
  • The itching should improve a nerve feeling returns to normal.


Always consult a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Hope you find this information helpful. Best wishes

Itching and correction for relief

The standard preparations for contact dermatitis will not help you.  Your itching is neurogenic.   I would try Medrol Dose pack and see if it helps.   It may well not but its worth a try.   A drug that almost certainly will work is Neurontin or Gabapentin.  You will need to work with your doctor and see what is the correct dose.   Gabapentin is easily accepted by most people and after the first few days you function fine.  The dose is a little tricky.  I would start with 400 mg 3 x a day and go up or down from there.   Very high % chance this will help you.    It is not a cure but is a great help.    This drug I use frequently on my liposuction patients.

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Itching After Mastectomy Surgery

So for as far out as you are from surgery it should not be wound healing itching. Rather it sounds like the nerves are regaining function and you are having this electrical sensations as the nerve is able to conduct signals again. There are some medications that may help you that you will need a prescription for. I would revisit your breast surgeon and discuss this issue. Congratulations surviving you battle with breast cancer!

Richard J. Brown, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.