Post-mastectomy pain syndrome (PMPS) after top surgery is a moderately frequent complication of FTM/N top surgery. There is currently no standard definition for this pain condition, but in general this is a nerve irritation syndrome that causes a burning pain on one or both sides of the chest and usually is significant enough to make it difficult to sleep. This can last for up to 6 months or more, but in our experience it usually dissipates or disappears approximately 3-6 weeks after surgery.
Post FTM/FTN mastectomy can result in a sensation of pain, burning, and itching, which can start immediately after surgery or in the days or weeks that follow, and it can persist quite a while after the initial pain of surgery is gone. These sensations can occur in the chest area, surrounding the surgical scar, the armpit, or as tingling down the arm. In worst-case scenarios, it can feel like a severe sunburn.
There are many success stories of individuals treating PMPS with holistic approaches, such as acupuncture for pain management. Gabapentin (Neurontin) is very effective and can go up in dose quite a bit if necessary to get pain control. However, it certainly causes drowsiness, so that is a trade-off to be discussed with your primary care physician. If you’ve recently had surgery with Dr. Mosser or Dr. Facque and think you are experiencing PMPS, please get in contact with our office so we can begin having these discussions.
All surgery carries a risk of nerve damage and chronic pain. While there are very few studies on trans specific patients for PMPS, it does not mean that FTM/FTN surgeries are exempt from this complication. Please discuss this possible outcome with your surgeon and primary care physician.