What is it?
There seem to be 3 main theories of what the cord is actually made of.
1. Scar tissue that has run amok.
2. Lymphatic vessels that have hardened.
3. In the arm, the major arteries, veins and nerves run together in a bundle.
Some believe the connective tissue that surrounds the bundle is what becomes fibrotic (medical word that basically means “hard.”).
Anecdotally, I can tell you from working with patients, that all three make sense to me. Sometimes there is a really thick cord that starts in the armpit and seems to be scar tissue left over from lymph node dissection, or expander placement. Often times plastic surgeons tell their patients they can “clean that up” during the expander exchange surgery for implants. Other times the cording is more diffuse and webby, just like the lymphatic vessels, or can follow the exact anatomic pathway of a major artery/vein/nerve bundle.
Cording can last several months, and seems to take a few steps forward, then backward, but eventually will stop completely….until it randomly show up again for a few days and then seems to be gone for good. Typically it’s completely gone in 4 to 6 months, but not uncommon to pop up here and there even two years after treatment.
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