Swelling above pm scar, feeling sad

I am 9 days after surgery. When I took dressing and steri strips off I was  shocked by what I saw. Above the scar line is swollen and misshapen. I phoned hospital yesterday and they called me on for a look at it. The doctor said it’s just swelling although the nurses were convinced it was a harmatoma. 

The doctor told me to take 5 days course of paracetamol. The swelling is painful. They did blood tests and they were clear. 

I hate looking at my scar and even through clothes it looks awful. I am quite depressed. I don’t want anyone to see it even my husband. I was finding it difficult coming to terms with having a pm and this has just made it worse. 

Any ideas for reducing swelling or anything that might help???


Post implant depression

by Theknotguy - 2019-08-17 07:37:26

For swelling you can use cold packs.  In the USA we have Tylenol which is an over-the-counter medication that is used for minor pain and swelling.  Using the UK equivalent of Tylenol may help. 

Some healing post implant of the pacemaker goes on for several months so it may take that long for some of the swelling to go down.  After that it just depends upon your body type and if your body is hydrated or not.  

A certain number of heart patients get depression after a heart event.  You even said you feel depressed yourself.  You have the hype before you get the pacemaker, then the post procedure let-down.  I don't know what they have available in the UK, but I would work with your doctor and your hospital to see if they have any support for post-implant depression.  

I fall into the group who doesn't mind the scar, doesn't mind the lump, and is more than happy to discuss the fact that I have a pacemaker. But I also recognize some people have trouble coming to terms with the fact they now have a scar, a lump, and are dependent upon a machine to keep themselves alive and in good health.  In the USA and in the State in which I reside, we are allowed to work with a psychologist and our medical insurance will pay for it.  I worked with a psychologist a few months post implant because I had gone through so much trauma before I got my pacemaker.  She really helped me come to terms with the situation.  I don't know if you have the equivalent in the UK, but working with a disinterested third party can help you immensely.  

It is normal to feel depressed post any medical procedure so how you feel isn't out of line.  I know it's different for women as their body image can have a lot to do with how they feel.  So I hope there is some way you can get help for your post procedure depression.  


by Tracey_E - 2019-08-17 09:02:57

How it looks now is NOTHING like how it will look 6 months or a year from now. It is still a fresh incision. 

Ice is good for pain and swelling. 

After one of my replacements, it remained swollen two months later and one of the nurses told me to do 15 min with a heating pad on low. Did that twice and the swelling went away. However!!! Don't run and do that just yet. I don't think heat is a good idea this soon, and I don't have the slightest idea how heat and hematomas mix. File this bit of info away and if it's still puffy in another month, try it. 

A bit of the blues is perfectly normal. Taking some time to accept and adjust to your new normal is to be expected. Don't beat yourself up that you aren't ok with it overnight. You probably still aren't sleeping well, you have pain, it's not pretty, well meaning people are probably still peppering you with questions, your family may be hovering... all of that makes it harder to cope. It will get better.

That said, if it continues, if it affects your ability to enjoy every day things, then it's time to talk to someone.

I would suggest start by talking to your husband about how you feel. If it was the other way around, if he was the one with the new scar but it came with a new lease on life, how would you feel? If he gets a scar are you going to stop loving him or being attracted to him? Probably not, we are always harder on ourselves than others would be. Sometimes we just need to hear it, so ask him. I got my first pacer 6 months after we were married. I can tell you with certainty that my husband has never looked on it with anything but gratitude, a symbol that he didn't lose me. 

Early Pacer Pocket Scar Appearance

by Marybird - 2019-08-17 14:35:06

I'm a bit over two months out from my pacemaker implantation here, and recall I was pretty dismayed at the appearance of my scar around the 10-12 day mark when they took off the steristrips and checked it at the doc's office.

The areas above and below the scar line were swollen, red, and unevenly "bumpy", (probably granuloma formation, I assume) and all I could envision was those bumps sticking around forever and that scar turning into an uneven, keloid-ridden mess that was horrifying to look at. Additionally I guess it was possibly a localized foreign body reaction but I had a fine rash on the skin over the pacemaker (the rash was in the general shape of the pacer), that seemed to come and go, and the itching was insane. The EP's nurse told me I could rub a little cortisone cream over the rash (not on the scarline) and take some benedryl, and this helped a great deal. And she also assured me (as did my daughter, who's also a nurse) that what I was seeing that soon after the pacer implant was normal and not unexpected. 

My  first thoughts when I saw that scar and surrounding areas after the steristrips and bandage came off was that the doc who put it in was a great EP but not a great plastic surgeon, leaving me with a mess like that. But as time has gone on, those red bumpy areas have diminished a lot, the scar looks fine now as healing continues.The swelling over the whole area has gone down and the pacer bump is barely perceptible. I think the scar will eventually be a fine line that's not all that noticeable eventually. We all heal differently and at different rates, and ugly at the beginning doesn't mean it'll end up that way (barring any difficulties, infections, and so on). 


Thanks to you all

by SandyJ - 2019-08-20 05:30:30

Thank you so much, it helped to read your messages. I have used ice on the scar and some of the swelling has gone down a bit. Although I have severe raynauds so ice is something I find difficult but I am persevering. 

I understand it takes time but 6 weeks after the pm op we are going away on a holiday to celebrate my husbands "big" birthday and the doctors had said scar would be fine for that. Maybe they werent completely honest with me.

Thanks again

what's fine

by Tracey_E - 2019-08-21 13:50:56

It is perfectly safe at 6 weeks. It's technically healed and you don't have to baby it. That's not the same as being as good as it's going to get. My guess would be the doctor wasn't being dishonest so much as thinking about it differently- healed as in your heart is better and you no longer have restrictions vs healed and invisibile. Don't let this keep you from enjoying your holiday. Don't give it that much power. 

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I am 100% pacemaker dependant and have been all my life. I try not to think about how a little metal box keeps me alive - it would drive me crazy. So I lead a very active life.