Side effects after VATS: Hello everyone... - Lung Cancer Support

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Side effects after VATS


Hello everyone, I'm new here and came across the community after googling "side effects after vats". My surgery was in 2015 and I'm very grateful that I didn't need any other treatment. As others in the community, I have had sensitivity in my right side, which I expected, but after 4 years the tightness and sensitivity have actually gotten worsen. Most significantly, about a year ago I twisted my torso over the arm of the sofa to pick up something from the floor, and the sensation I felt startled me and took my breath away. The best way to describe it is that it felt as "something" was ripping inside and moving and the same time, it wasn't a sharp pain, more like an intense discomfort. This continues to happen depending how I move/twist my torso, in addition to the tightness in the chest, and the feeling of inflammation and bloating all the time, especially the bra line. My doctors say it could be scar tissue and/or nerve damage. If this is what it is, so be it, since I know how incredibly lucky I am to be alive and active at 71. I'm waiting for results of my follow up CT Scan, though none of the previous CTs or PET scans have shown anything. I realize that my situation doesn't compare to those of you experiencing real pain and its consequences, and my prayers are with you, but was curious to know if anyone has experienced the "ripping" sensation.

15 Replies

Your pain is real don’t put yourself down. 7.5 years out from a VATS for a pleurodesis I still have numbness and pain. For the first few years I managed it with gabapentin but others have found Lyrica to work well for them.

From what you describe you might look into scar manipulation. It has worked wonders for one of the members of my cancer support group. I don’t remember if she got the referral from the oncologist or the PCP.

Glouie1 in reply to Denzie

Have never heard of scar manipulation. Thanks. Will look into this.

Hi Please don't minimize your pain - it is very real, and you are not alone in feeling it so long after surgery. Talk to your doctors and see what options they can offer. There are meds as well as physical therapies that can help. Being pro-active isn't always easy, but it may very well lead to lessening the pain, if not taking it away completely. I've been through major ca surgeries, and can say first-hand that a combination of med and physical therapy has helped more than once. You are young and vibrant, please don't let anything change that!! Let us know how things work out!

As others have said, seek help. Like you, I experience what I would describe as sharp stabbing pain when I bend down in a particular way on my left side (I had a left upper lobectomy by open thoracotomy not VATs in Dec 2010) and it catches me out - really winds me from time to time. I've been told it is likely nerve damage or scar tissue. Our bodies can take a long time to heal and of course, we're grateful that we're still here after diagnosis but that's not a reason not to seek help when we're in pain and discomfort. hope you get it sorted soon. good luck.

I, too had VATS in 2015 and continue to have numbness around the bra line and occasional pain in the incision site as well as where the chest tube was. For me it is manageable. I believe so much depends on the location of the incision site and what occurred during the surgery. Do seek relief from your pain. And yes, we are fortunate to have made it to this point. I'm now 77 and grateful to still be kicking.

I have experienced that ripping feeling. But I stopped myself really quickly. It was about 3 months after surgery. It hasn’t continued but I feel like I am not healed yet. Very sore to the touch still. I am 6 months post surgery. I have a tight band around my torso. That is sometimes less in the morning and gets progressively worse by afternoon or evening. It restricts my mobility to the point I have trouble wiping myself.

My Surgeon called me to say that my CT scan was good.

He has no explanation for the tight torso band. He says it’s nothing to do with the surgery. Well, it has to be.

I have been taking more gabapenten. No help. My doctor started me on an anti anxiety med but that also has not given any relief.

I’m now taking physical therapy, hoping for help from that.

Sorry I’m not much help. I’m looking for answers, too.

Good Luck:)

DenzieModerator in reply to Glouie1

Of course it’s from the surgery. You’re the expert on your body. You’ve lived in it for many years. You know your body better than that surgeon who only spent a short time with you. Even my PCP knew what caused it when I described the tight band feeling. You might consider discussing pain management with your primary care doc. There are alternatives to gabapentin that may work better for you.

Glouie1 in reply to Denzie

Thank you for your reply.

My surgeon said that he was going to refer me to a pain management clinic well over a month ago. Haven’t heard anything yet.

DenzieModerator in reply to Glouie1

Your surgeon needs a fire lit under him. He is not in any pain and doesn’t believe he did anything to cause yours. Call his nurse and remind them. I get frustrated with that type of hubris.

Thank you so much Denzie, Anrean, JeanetteR57, JeanE41 and Glouie1 for all your replies. Can't tell you how much I appreciate the support I have received so soon after my first post.

Was surprised by Glouie1's doctor saying the symptoms had nothing to do with the surgery, and I agree with you that it has to be related to the surgery. In my case, before the surgery my surgeon DID tell me I would have "chest pain", but at the time I was still in the "deer in the head lights" mode and didn't ask him to elaborate.

Last year I told my surgeon about the discomfort, but he explained he couldn't see much from a PET as it was not ideal to check for possible reasons for my symptom, and to see him again once I had a plain CT.

Yesterday I got the results of my CT scan, and like Glouie1, my oncologist said it showed that all was stable. Out of curiosity I picked up the written report from the radiologist which read "no acute abnormality etc..." but it also indicated "there are postsurgical changes and a 13 x 8 mm soft tissue density opacity adjacent to the surgical sutures" as well as "scarring in the lung apices". It also recommends a Pet scan, which my oncologist will request soon. I asked if that was normal and was told that it was for someone with surgery like mine, and that scarring and nerve damage was to be expected -- hence a "good" scan.

My next step is to visit my surgeon and check my options -- by the way I have never heard of scar manipulation, and will ask if this is a possibility for me. Again, thank you so much for all your support. Will keep posting if I find anything that helps.

Best to all of you :)

DenzieModerator in reply to Travelhappy

Scar manipulation is new to me too. The woman in my group who had it said it was done by a massage therapist.

Glouie1 in reply to Denzie

I am seeing a massage therapist for my knee and hips. She is in the same clinic as my physical therapist. I will definitely be asking about scar manipulation.

I have the same issue, I had VATS LUL sometimes I swear it’s the lung being squeezed, it’s so tight!!! It happens more often instead of less. I had my surgery in 2015 also.

Oh no!!! Was really going to hear from someone who says it went away with treatment and what kind of treatment it was.

Truely understand your discomfort , I’m as grateful and lucky as you are!!! No other measureses needed after vats .... blessed and sent prayers to those needing more !!! I’m at the doctors tommorow and going to ask for some pain relief , the comments I have read will be very useful for some relief , I’m 6 months out of surgery and the nerve activity at night wakes me up , not very comfortable ! Hoping to get some relief . I don’t feel ripping like you , but notice I’m not the same !!!

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