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Fluid Build-up After Tummy Tuck?

I have fluid build-up above my belly button after having a Tummy Tuck 4 months ago. Will the fluid ever go away or will I have to be drained for the rest of my life?

Will the compression garments work? How long will it take for this fluid to go away? Also, I'm still very swollen, how long does it take for the swelling to go down?

Doctor Answers (7)

Consult your surgeon

+3

Postoperative fluid buildup after an abdominoplasty is fairly common. However, it is not common to persist after 4 months. You should consult with your surgeon to determine if a drain needs to be inserted and/or a surgical procedure should be considered to treat the chronic fluid collection.


Rockville Plastic Surgeon

You may be headed for more surgery

+2

You need to be in close contact with your surgeon as this can ultimately require a surgery to removed the chronic seroma capsule.  Other options include placement of a drain or sclerosing agents or very frequent aspiration.

W. Tracy Hankins, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Chronic seroma pocket can be treated

+2

If you still have fluid aspirated from this area 4 months after your surgery, you are dealing with a chronic seroma pocket formation. This will require placement of a drain to drain the fluid and then place a sclerosing agent (an irritant) to cause internal scarring and obliteration of the fluid pocket. If this does not work, you will need a reoperation to peel out the serous pocket membrane and allow scarring with a drain in place.

You should see your treating surgeon. This could be a difficult problem and if not done the right way you can end up with skin irregularities in this area.

George Marosan, MD
Bellevue Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

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Fluid or edema

+2

Fluid collections are either hematomas or seromas. Your surgeon should be following and treating you for this. This might require aspirations or a drain. However, what you might be describing is edema of the upper abdomen or epigastric region. Because the lymphatic drainage is normally against gravity toward the axilla, this region can experience difficult edema especially if liposuction has been perform. Compression garments may be helpful but your surgeon should help supervise their use as they could also make things worse if there are constriction areas. Massage and lymphatic drainage might be helpful. Occasionally permanent fullness remains. You'll need to be patient and diligent in your follow-up.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

See your surgeon

+2

Ask the doctor who is treating you. Our opinions will not help you -- you need to have continuous care until the seroma goes away. There is no magic pill or potion.

William B. Rosenblatt, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Pseudo bursa

+1
Thank you for your post. Seromas can be painful and cause a cosmetic deformity, as well as sometimes leak. The whole point of drains is to keep a seroma from happening in the first place. If a drainless procedure was performed, and you had a seroma, or you had drains that were pulled and you subsequently had a seroma, then you should be drained, otherwise a capsule builds around the fluid making it permanent. If a capsule builds around the seroma (pseudo bursa or encapsulated seroma) then the only way to remove the seroma is to surgically open the areas and excise the capsule, and close over drains to prevent another seroma from happening. If the seroma is encapsulated and is tight and painful, then it can be confused with just swelling or fat. An ultrasound is useful in distinguishing these and identifying the extent of the seroma. If the seroma is not yet encapsulated, then it is usually loose and has a 'fluid wave' or water bed type feel. Occasionally, a seroma can also become infected, especially if a permanent braided suture was used. This will have a hot, red appearance, and will eventually open up.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Fluid build up after tummy tuck

+1
It is common for fluid to build up after a tummy tuck however four months is a little long after the fact. I recommend you see your surgeon as soon as you can about this. Compression garments help ease the swelling and you may benefit from wearing one. However please follow your surgeon's advice. A  drain or additional surgery may be required. 

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.