A seroma is a pocket of fluid (like the pus of a blister) that forms in the body after tummy tuck surgery. During the surgery small blood vessels are ruptured causing seepage and pooling of blood plasma. They are common after surgery. Your doctor will make that determination but if you tap on your lower abdomen (try different areas) and you see or feel a fluid/wave like motion, then it’s likely you have one. You may also try to feel for the fluid of the seroma beneath the skin with your fingers.
Risks or dangers Associated With Seromas
Seromas are a source of potential infection. Signs of infection include fever, redness, or increased pain.
Formation is prevented (or reduced) through use of a tight fitting compression garment. The force from the compression garment helps collapse the cavity formed by the seroma and prevents further accumulation of fluid. Compression garments may have to be worn for several weeks or months.
To get rid of seromas your doctor will usually drain or aspirate it with a syringe in his office at a follow-up meeting. It may take repeated visits and aspirations to drain all the fluid as continuing seepage may occur over time. When the seepage slows or stops your body should absorb the remaining fluid. In some cases the doctor may install a drain to remove the fluid from a seroma.
Why drain a Seroma? Won’t my body absorb the fluid?
They are drained to reduce the risk of infection and to allow the body to heal properly. When a seroma exists an abnormal separation of body tissue occurs. Removal will allow the body tissue to come together for proper healing.
Often the draining of a seroma with a needle (or syringe) does not hurt because the area of the seroma will still be numb from the recent surgery. Even if the area was no longer numb, the discomfort would be similar to that of a needle injection.
The following was the author’s experience with a tummy tuck seroma.
“The doctor noticed that it looked like I had some fluid retention (drainage) in my midsection and decided to drain it. He inserted a “big needle” just below my belly button and drained (sucked out) about ½ cup of red drainage fluid from my belly area. He told me not to look, and I told him I did not want to but I wanted to see the needle and how much it contained after he was done. I was surprised to see so much drainage was still inside me. He said that it was not uncommon and that by draining it the way he did saves my body the trouble of absorbing it and aids in the healing process. Note: When he first brought out the big needle (syringe) needless to say I was a little apprehensive, but because my belly area was still numb I didn’t feel a thing.”
At yet another follow-up meeting.
“Doctor examined me to see if there was anymore drain fluid buildup in my stomach area. He wasn’t sure so he stuck another drain needle into my belly, fished around for a pocket of fluid, but came up “dry”. I take that as good news in that I did not have anymore waste or drainage fluid in my belly. Needle did not hurt at all.”
How long will a seroma last?
They may last from several weeks to several months or longer. How long it lasts will depend on your health, your doctor’s treatments and you body’s ability to heal. Your doctor will be able to determine if your seroma is gone or has reduced to such a level that your body will absorb the remaining fluid. If there is no more bulging or apparent fluid beneath the skin and the last time your doctor tried to aspirate it little or no fluid was removed, then likely it is gone or reduced to a level of no concern.