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How Can You Tell if You Have a Seroma or Just Swelling? I Had a TT 17 Days Ago and Very Puffy Under my Incision

How Can You Tell if You Have a Seroma or Just Swelling? I Had a TT 17 Days Ago and Very Puffy Under my Incision

Doctor Answers 13

Swelling Versus Seroma

Go see you doctor.  Its easy to tell.  If seroma you will get fluid waves like in the ocean when you tap on one side.  Look in a mirror.  Tap The right side.  Do you see a wave.   Little seromas are hard to see but are insignificant so it does not matter anyway.   Wear a tummy binder as much as you cah on lower abdomen.  This corrects either problem.  If seromadont worry. They go away 99.9% of time.   Sometimes draining a seroma speeds the resolution.  You will be fine.   Best,  Dr Commons

Palo Alto Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

1515 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Sometimes its difficult...

The main way that the physician tells is if a fluid wave is present - think of tapping one edge of a water bed and feeling the wave come to the other side (I think that shows my age!) Soft tissue swelling is a little more firm with no wave. Basically, you need to see your surgeon for an exam. Good Luck!

Brian Klink, MD
Vacaville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

1001 Nut Tree Rd
Vacaville, CA 95687

Seroma vs. Swelling

Significant swelling early in the postop period after drain removal is always concerning for seroma formation.  I will often recommend an ultrasound if I am unsure or sterile drainage if it is palpable.

I would recommend close followup with your plastic surgeon.

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

9200 Pinecroft
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Post-operative Swelling Versus Seroma

Please see your surgeon ASAP, as only he/she can make that determination.  In general, seroma will act like a water bed so that if one taps on the skin, small waves will be seen under the skin.  But a small seroma may be difficult to diagnose and only your surgeon can make that determination.

Michael A. Jazayeri, MD
Santa Ana Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

2010 East First St.
Santa Ana , CA 92705

Your surgeon should know

Please discuss this with your surgeon, he should be able to tell you and reccomend treatment as indicated, good luck.

Vishnu Rumalla, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 129 reviews

1870 Keller Parkway
Keller, TX 76248

Seroma after Tummy tuck

As a patient you may be able to distinguish seroma  from swelling by feeling for a fluid wave. If you place your hand on one side of the area of concern and you feel a “wave” sensation with your other hand (on the other side of the area of concern)  you likely have a  seroma.  Your surgeon will be able to make the diagnosis; often, several aspirations may be necessary to resolve the problem.

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,054 reviews

8851 Center Drive
San Diego, CA 91942

"Puffy" abdomen following a tummy tuck

Seromas as well as significant swelling of the abdomen are very common during the period of time that you are at following your abdominoplasty. Typically a seroma will appear as an undulating fluid wave whereas swelling is more firm and fixed.

You should contact your plastic surgeon who can then assess your situation and take appropriate action if indicated.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

10290 N 92nd St
Scottsdale, AZ 85258


A fluid wave is what we use to determnine a free fluid collection. It is difficult to determine if you are not trained in this clinical exam. You must go to your plastic surgeon and he can tell immediately. If a seroma he will need to remove the fluid.

Miguel Delgado, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

450 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

Swelling post tummy tuck

see your surgeon. the surgeon is the one to decide what they expected and what is possibly wrong post surgery. it may be normal, it may be fluid that needs to be drained. get to it soon.

Rick Rosen, MD
Norwalk Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

91 East Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851

Please see your surgeon

I would agree with both Dr's.Rand and Commons.You need to see your surgeon for further evaluation and possible treatment.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

3901 Veterans Blvd
Metairie, LA 70002

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.