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Side effects after surgery to remove your lymph nodes

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Like any type of surgery, having your lymph nodes taken out can cause problems. One study found that about 1 in 10 people who had surgery to remove their lymph nodes got problems.[26] These problems are more likely to happen if you need to have more lymph nodes removed after a sentinel node biopsy.[26] Out of people who need to have more lymph nodes removed, 4 in 10 get at least one of the side effects listed below. (In a sentinel node biopsy, the first lymph node your melanoma drains to is removed and checked for cancer. If cancer cells are present, other lymph nodes nearby are taken out.)


You may get an infection in the area where you have surgery.


It's possible for fluid to build up in the wound after surgery. You may need to have this fluid drained off.

Permanent swelling

The area where your lymph nodes have been taken out can swell. This happens because one of the jobs of the lymph nodes is to drain extra fluid from your tissues. If the lymph nodes are taken out, the fluid has nowhere to go and causes swelling. This can be painful and cause stiffness, depending on where in your body the lymph nodes were removed. For example, if the lymph nodes were removed from your neck, you may find it difficult to move your shoulder. Pain and stiffness are far less likely if you have just your sentinel node removed rather than all your lymph nodes.



Biopsy is when doctors remove some tissue from a part of your body, so that it can be examined under a microscope.

For more terms related to Skin cancer (melanoma)


For references related to Skin cancer (melanoma) click here.
Last Updated: January 07, 2011
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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