“Did You Have A Bump At The Top Of Your Incision?” Asks Alice

By Adam Pick on November 13, 2009

Alice just sent me a great question about incision and scar care after heart valve surgery.

She writes, “Adam, I am 55 and had open heart surgery to replace my valve about three weeks ago. Most of my scar looks OK, flat and thin.  My concern is the top of the scar — around and above the top of the incision is a big protruding lump.  It is soft, not hard, and is not sore. Did this happen to you? Thanks, Alice”


Top Incision Bump After Heart Surgery - Patient Picture


Alice’s question just brought back a distinct memory from my early recovery. Like Alice, I also had a bump at the top of my incision. It wasn’t very noticeable but I questioned Dr. Starnes, my surgeon, about the bump during my surgical follow-up.

Dr. Starnes assured me that the bump was completely normal and that the swelling would go down. As you can see in the picture above, there is a raised bump at the top of the patient’s scar.

Well, Dr. Starnes was right. In a few weeks, the swelling went down and then… disappeared. Now, you can barely even tell I had open heart surgery.



I hope this helps Alice (and perhaps you) learn more about incision healing – especially bumps at the top of the scar.

Keep on tickin!

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Lilo Amundson says on November 13th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Hi there, my husband had an aortic valve replaced 5 weeks ago, and the bump at the top of the scar (where the skin was gathered “when sewing”) has disappeared and the scar looks smooth!

Lou Ann Marler says on November 13th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

I too had a lump. It was just as you explained. The bump does go down and before you know it, your scar will be looking really good. So again, don’t worry!!! Take care!

Stephen Waxman says on November 14th, 2009 at 8:05 am

I have had two aortic valve replacements and each time I had a lump at the top of my incision which went away with time. My advice is be patient and it will fade away !!

Stephen Waxman

Ottawa Canada

Jean Karloski says on November 14th, 2009 at 7:19 pm

I had the lump and also had like an indentation……I have used mederma on the incision especially the top and it has really helped. The tube cost around $20 but last along time…I suggest you use that. Jean Karloski

Kerrigan says on November 14th, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Include me in the Lumpy Club, except it is small and and the bottom of the incision and used Mederma for 10 months after the operation. Helped a lot.

Eric Desbonnet says on November 14th, 2009 at 10:45 pm

I had mitral valve surgery 3 weeks ago and have the same bump now. I was wondering what it was about and whether it would go away. Thanks to all for answering my question.

Mary Ferraro says on November 15th, 2009 at 10:42 am

Mitral valve repair & one year later and my scar has a big bump at the bottom . . . and the entire thing is sort of bumpy and gets itchy. Use the Mederma as per label directions. Give the incision a full year to heal and if you are not pleased, go to a dermatologist and have them fix the scar for you. I remain, however, thrilled that I can run around and play with no restrictions for the 1st time in 53 years

Dale P. says on November 15th, 2009 at 12:12 pm

I had aortic valve replacement and aortic grafting 13 days ago, and I’m lumpy, too. I also have an occasional clicking sound (which is gross!!!). Has anyone else experienced this?

Rachel Vaughan says on November 15th, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Dale. Do you have mechcinal valve? I have heard a few people with that have said they heard a clicking sound. I too had an aortic valve replacement (I have a tissue valve), it will be 3 weeks wednesday, I also have the same type of gathering/lump at the top,. I had Open Heart Surgery when I was 4 and had the same gathering there it eventually when down, and just looked a bit different compared to the rest of my scar. My most recent, I am 26, and this seems to be already healing alot better and looks smaller than the end result of my last. Hopefully all will look good soon, but either way I am heathly and happy! 🙂

Chelsey Kristensen says on November 16th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I also had a bump which dissapeared. Now 5 months later I have all these little bumps down the center and at the bottom which apparently is the wire holding my sternum together (im thin so you can feel it) One of the bumps sticks out quite a bit and is quite painfull so I am having a ct scan to see how stable my sternum is and they might take out the wire, (or at least snip off the painfull part) Other than that everything is great!

Dale P. says on November 16th, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Hi Rachel. I have a tissue valve as well, so it isn’t that. It’s also very sporadic — a few times a day. The Visiting Nurse says it’s from twisting, which I will now try to stop (didn’t know I was twisting, actually). My scar, after two weeks, is looking remarkably good — not ready for evening gowns yet, but not as bad as I had expected. I’m sorry to hear, on the one hand, that you’ve had to go through this twice, but glad, on the other, that the option was available and that you’re doing well.

Terry Whitehead says on November 17th, 2009 at 11:13 am

I am to undergo aorta and aotic valve replacement next week, I am having a “Pig Valve”.
Is there any advice you can give me regarding post operation?
Can I sleep on my side as normal?
Do I have to do/not do anything special?

Linda Herzog says on November 17th, 2009 at 7:21 pm

I had an aortic valve replaced in 2001 and I also have bumps going down my chest. I am slender so they are really noticeable. They are hard (like bone or the sternal wires) but are not painful, they just look wieird. I wish there was some way to get rid of them.

Darren Theriault says on November 18th, 2009 at 12:28 am


I had aortic valve replacement with a mechanical valve 3 weeks ago. I feel I am recovering well but at the top of my incision there are 2 tiny pieces of wire sticking out of my chest! Maybe 4 to 6 millimeters long. Has anyone else had this. Should I go to doctor and get them cut? Thanks


Rachel Vaughan says on November 20th, 2009 at 9:33 pm

So I am now 3 weeks and 2 days post -op, and my scar is finally down to no scabs and just one left on my chest tube site. Sad to report I will be going back to the hospital because I have an aortic aneurysm. I am thankful for each day, but sadden that I have to go back due to more issues post op. I spent 2 days in the hospital dealing with pleural effusions after I was first sent home, Did anyone else have any issues like this?

Nancy says on November 22nd, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I had a huge bump at the top of my minnimalinvasive aortic valve replacement in May of ’09.

Not only is the bump gone, but so is the scar!!!! I think that my surgeon, Prem Shakar of Brigham and Womens in Boston, is not only a wonderful Doctor and surgeon, but also an artist!!!

keshav goel says on January 7th, 2010 at 4:04 am

hi i am keshav 15 yr old i had avr 1 year ago but the lump at the top has not
gone what should i do it doesnt pain but feels weird

Anita says on April 13th, 2010 at 9:24 pm

I had an aortic valve replacement along with the repair to an aortic aneurysm in February 2010. I also had the lump at the top of the scar which has now gone down and is flat. However, the rest of my scar is welted, red and extremely itchy. I am hoping that the “MEDERMA” mentioned in several reviews helps. Aside from the itch, I am doing great and have been going to cardiac rehab for the past month. On another note, I went for a check-up two weeks after my surgery and when I told the nurse that I could not sleep because of horrible back pains, she told me to lie face up on the bare floow with a heating pad on my back – she said it would ‘align’ the back. Boy, did it ever! I wish I had known about this earlier. That night was the first good nights sleep that I got.

Midge says on May 2nd, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Anita, I had AVR in Fed. 2009 and it still itches at times. Not too often and not as severe as it was the first six months or so, but it still have moments when it itches like crazy. Mederma helped with the incision scar but not with the itching.


Micki says on May 5th, 2010 at 3:54 am

I had a bicuspid valve replaced and an aortic aneurysm repaired in June 2009.
My scar was almost invisible until I had to have a sternum repair in March 2010.
My sternum did not heal properly, it would click and move, while not painful it was annoying and uncomfortable. I was watched for 8 months before they decided the repair surgery was necessary. As it turned out, the wires had all pulled out and the sternum was healing with gaps and tissue and I had a few fractures. My heart surgeon made the initial incision and cleaning out of the sternum and checked my heart before the plastic surgeon continued. There was also an ICD doctor involved because of my defibrillator. The plastic surgeon inserted 5 titanium plates, 13 screws and one spider plate. I am healing okay but find that my new scar is more obvious than my old one and not fading quite as well. After the 1st surgery I was told not to put any type of ointment on the scar, and by the time of my second surgery, the scar was almost invisible. The plastic surgeon has told me he will prescribe something for the scar. I too have a bump and rather bumpy scar now..unlike after my first surgery. This does concern me but I was told to give it time. This sternum repair surgery had a more painful recovery and is taking more time to mend.
I was glad to hear about the Mederma, and will ask my doctor at my next visit.
I hope everyone is doing well and like everyone else I am truly grateful to Adam for his book and website.

Chris says on November 3rd, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I’m 15 years old and had open heart surgery about 3 weeks ago. I was just wandering how long did it take your sternum to heal enough to where you could work out with lights weights? I’m not so concerned with my scar because its look pretty good, so is the hole where the chest tube was.
Thnks, Chris.

Barbara Lenker says on March 30th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

HELLO, 61 FEMALE had mitral valve prolapse surgery 7 weeks ago. All is healing….what an adventure. I wasn’t brave enough to want to know what was going to happen…I’d rather read about it afterwards…they only complaint..is that blasted lump…at the top of the open heart surgery site. It sticks out slightly and so my shirts seem to cling to it. I don’t care to wear shirts that will show the incision…
This past week I needed cardioinversion to reset the pacemaker…heart is now beating around 70!
Most of the lower incision stuff has peeled off…I am going back to work Monday,April 4….
Good luck all!!! this site has been really helpful!

David W. says on August 1st, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I’m 42 and had a mechanical Aortic Valve replacement following an Aortic Dissection 9 months ago. Scar healing progressively, almost invisible in places, and a few small lumps and pits in the middle. I’ve had an occasional painful hard, larger lump at the top of the scar, which in the last couple of weeks has become more painful again, and I’ve just noticed the lump is a lot larger than previously. When I asked my doctor some time back, he indicated it was the wire and that in time it should settle down. I can deal with the pain, but am concerned sometimes that the lump is damaging the skin and possibly some nerves in the throat.

Karen Dark says on October 1st, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Hi, my daughter had open heart surgery when she was six months old, she is now 2yrs old. Still being monitered especially as she still has a leaky valve. Her scar is still very notcable and she also has a large lump. She has knocked it a couple of times and she instantly burst into tears 🙁 Been told she can have an op to remove it either now or when she hits pubity as the lump right in the middle the bra would rest on it. Thing is i dont no what to do? Do i do it now whille she is young or wait till she older? If i wait will it get bigger and/or painful???? She has downs syndrome so not sure if when she older she will fully understand it, but also she has school to contend with too????? Any advice plz xxx

Barbara says on October 1st, 2011 at 6:10 pm

My lump has completely disappeared.I used Mederma. I have about an inch of rolled skin still noticeable to me….but no one else seems to see it!
No pain.

Bre says on October 10th, 2013 at 6:09 am

My daughter had surgery on her aortic arch. I’m just noticing that she has a lump at the top of her incision. It’s a little bit red but not much. When I rub my finger across it she doesn’t act like it bothers her so I assume it isn’t sore. But my question is, did anyone else have just a little but of redness by their lump?

David W. says on October 10th, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Hi, an update on my earlier post 2 years ago. The scar has faded to a very pale line. Not invisible, but easily missed at first glance. The hard lump at the top is still there, but less prominent and does not irritate like it did when I posted before. It is the top of the wires used to knit the chest back together, and will always be there. The much smaller, soft lumps along the scar I had before, turned out to contain a white, fatty substance. Once carefully squeezed out and cleaned (apologies for the graphic detail), they healed up nicely and did not return. The ticking of my mechanical aortic valve still keeps me company, but I don’t notice it very often, nor does my wife.

Chloe says on November 19th, 2013 at 3:10 am

14 years ago, i had a mitral valve replacement operation. In the last week, i have noticed a bump at the bottom of my scar. Also i have found that when i laugh, my cheat gets very tight and i need to sit and calm down. Is this all normal?? (14 years old)

Rosemary L says on December 28th, 2013 at 2:22 pm

My husband had an aoratic valve replacement (cow valve) 7 months ago. He is healing well except it is wider at the top and gets smaller as it goes to the bottom. It is still pretty red. It has an indentation at the very top and bumpy all the way to the bottom. We have been exercising at our Y and he has been doing the rowing machine. Would this be why it now has an indentation? His chest hurts when he coughs.

David W. says on December 28th, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Rosemary, I had my aortic valve and root replacement just over 3 years ago. There is still a scar with some shallow indentation where the scar tissue is, but the redness disappeared within a year, as did most of the lumps and bumps (see my earlier posts). During cardiac rehab I used a rowing machine amongst others, and did not encounter any issues with the scar. The chest bone takes quite some time to knit together fully, so I’m not surprised it hurts if he’s been working out heavily, assuming it is not related to heart function. It was probably getting on for a year before the last of my (very mild) discomfort passed related to flexing in my chest if I were lifting or stretching. I think the pain when coughing or sneezing did not last that long though, but was something to watch out for in the first weeks and months.

rita hutson says on April 21st, 2014 at 10:18 pm

I just noticed bumps down my incision line, I have very heavy breasts, could they have created these bumps, are they serious, do I need to see the surgeon. thanks

Jake says on March 1st, 2015 at 7:24 pm

I had surgery 6 months ago now to replace my aortic valve , ended up having a pacemaker and I’m 21 and it was my second surgery , my first being when I was 7. I am now left with a white scar, all sores and redness went in 2 months iv recovered really well and fast but now I’m worried about the 2 hard lumps I have on my scar one being an inch above the bottom of the incision and the other an inch or so above that, they are hard, as if it’s like bone.. is this normal or should I get it checked out? I appreciate any help or opinions.

Doug Hendry says on March 31st, 2015 at 9:01 pm

I am 57 and had a quad bypass in November 2014. My breastbone is also very bumpy and just feels strange.. I don’t know if it will improve or not on it’s own so I will be talking to my surgeon to see what he says or recommends.

Thomas Holzinger says on February 4th, 2016 at 3:12 pm

I recentl had quadrupal bypass surgery, last november, recently i noticed a golf ball sized lumb at the bottom of the incision it is soft (like air) and there is no pain except it feels like the bone is moving…is this normal?

Stephen R. Phayre says on January 9th, 2017 at 5:20 pm

My surgeon explained that the top of the incision is where they start the stitching with a knot. The material that they use for the stitches is dissolvable and is normally absorbed by your body. Because of the knot, however, there can be more material than your body can absorb and the knot can actually be pushed out by your body. Some people will end up seeing the knot (and can actually cut it off) other times, it will just take longer for the body to dissolve the knot.

Richard Martin says on May 18th, 2018 at 10:25 am

Yes, I too have the Bump!! Mine has been 6 months and is still there. I will see my Doctor next week for an Echo.. Is their a specific question I should ask or is this a waiting game? Thank You Rich Martin

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