What is a Seroma and How is it Addressed?

Plastic surgery procedures such as facelifts and abdominoplasty are becoming increasingly popular and with advanced techniques, NYC plastic surgeons are able to keep any and all complications of a procedure to a minimum. However, body contouring in NYC comes with some side effects and plastic surgeons discuss them with patients during the consultation. For instance, the formation of a seroma is a common occurrence after New York City abdominoplasty, breast augmentation and breast reconstruction. A seroma is not an emergency and all plastic surgeons have their own methods to address this side effect.

What is a Seroma and how is it addressed

Let’s now see what seroma is and how can it can be addressed.

Seroma is a buildup of clear fluids under the surface of your skin where tissue has been removed. Right after a plastic surgery procedure, things like hardness, water retention, swelling, hematoma, or lumpiness in the areas treated are normal. A few weeks after the procedure, fluid may build up at the surgical site and the surrounding tissue swells up.

Not all plastic surgery procedures are equally prone to the development of seroma. It often appears after a rather extensive procedure, or one in which a lot of tissue is removed or disrupted.  Seroma usually occurs after abdominoplasty, breast augmentation and liposuction.

In most cases, this fluid accumulation is harmless and allowed to heal naturally. If it causes discomfort, it can only lead to a longer hospital stay after surgery. However, if the patient begins experiencing the symptoms of an infection, the seroma may have developed into an abscess and medical treatment would be needed. Treatment for a seroma depends on the severity of the issue. In mild cases, plastic surgeons use noninvasive techniques to encourage reabsorption of the fluid by the body. These techniques include:

  • Wearing a compression garment on the treated area.
  • Massaging the affected area to gently push the fluid back into the lymph vessels, which will reduce postsurgical swelling, fluid retention and pain. It is very important to have such massage done by a therapist with experience in post-operative massage.
  • Applying heat to the area using a heating pad or hot compress. Make sure the compress is not too hot and not left on the area for a long time.
  • Keeping the treated area elevated to increase drainage.

Seromas that are not reabsorbed often require manual removal of fluid from the affected area. Drains are placed at the surgical site after the procedure to reduce risk of seroma. The volume of fluid leakage is monitored and once it becomes minimal, the drains are removed.

After a tummy tuck, usually two drains are placed beneath the skin to remove serous fluid and any residual blood that may be present. These temporary drains – that may remain in your body for a few hours or a few days after a procedure – reduce fluid accumulation and swelling or inflammation, and support the healing process. In most cases, the use of drainage tubes will be sufficient for preventing a seroma, but it’s not always the case. You may need emergency medical attention if the condition is not resolved. That’s why patients are advised to contact their surgeon immediately if they notice anything unusual at the surgical site during the recovery phase.

Overall, keep in mind that minor, small seromas don’t always need medical treatment, because the body may naturally reabsorb the fluid in a few weeks or months. To reduce any pain or discomfort or to help ease any inflammation caused by the seroma, take over-the-counter pain medications prescribed by your plastic surgeon.

If you considering body contouring in NYC, choose an AAAASF-accredited plastic surgery practice that provide the services of knowledgeable and experienced plastic surgeons. Such surgeons will be well-prepared to anticipate the appearance of seroma and will address it effectively.