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How Many Times Should I Expect to have a Seroma Drained Post Tummy Tuck?

I had a Tummy Tuck and ended up with a seroma, how long can it take to go away and how many times might it have to be drained?

Doctor Answers (14)

Number of aspirations Variable

+4

The number of times aspiration is necessary to eradicate a seroma is variable, depending on the amount of fluid produced and the completeness of aspiration. My general rules are to aspirate 3-5 times and if this does not resolve the issue, return to the OR for placement of a drain. Other options include the injection of a sclerosing agent to obliterate the cavity. I also recommend decreasing activity and wearing of the garment until the seroma is resolved. Good Luck!


Vacaville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Seroma after an abdominoplasty

+3

Your plastic surgeon is in the best position to help decide what the problem is and how to correct it.  Usually it takes no more than 3 times for the seroma to resolve.  If the fluid keeps collecting then a drainage tube may have to be re-inserted.  It the pocket is still there you may need to have the seroma capsule excised.  If you are draining less then 25 cc each time then it is likely that this will resolve on its own.  Once it is totally gone it will not come back.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Aspirations after tummy tuck surgery

+3

There is no right or wrong answer to this question.  Seromas are a very frequent result of performing tummy tucks, and the more liposuction is combined with the tummy tuck the more likely it is to develop a seroma.  The proper treatment is to drain the seroma every other day or so, hoping to diminish the volume of fluid removed each time.  Once the volime is less than 25cc., the remaing fluid should absorb without further aspirations.  It may be a good idea to be sure your Plastic Surgeon cultures the fluid for bacteria if many aspirations are needed.  There can develop an infection in the fluid with multiple aspirations, even when sterile techniques are strictly followed.

 

Good luck.   Frank Rieger M.D.  Tampa

Francis (Frank) William Rieger, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Seroma post tummy tuck

+3

seromas do occur post operatively that is why drains are left in place. sometimes after removal of the drain, fluid recurs, sometimes due to activity level. will it recur and how many times will it need to be drained is difficult to answer. it depends on the amount of fluid obtained with the aspiration, and how it does over the next week or so. was the fluid normal appearing or did it have signs of infection. Follow your surgeons advice, compression garment, limited activity, taking your temperature, and close follow up by your surgeon is my advice.

Rick Rosen, MD
Norwalk Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Fluid collection after tummy tuck

+3

Seromas are collections of fluid that can form under the skin after a tumm tuck. These may need to be drained in the office  several times until the fluid amounts are quite low. If the fluid persists, occasionally a drain may need to be replaced and injected with a special solution to prevent fluid accumulation. Discuss this in detail with your plastic surgeon as each case is unique.

Best wishes,

Dr.Bruno

William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 152 reviews

Seroma after a Tummy Tuck

+2

Sorry to hear you have a seroma, although they are common after the tummy tuck procedure, they are also frustrating for patients to keep having their seroma drained. The amount of times you have to have it drained varies. It essentially has to do with how much fluid you have built up.  If the drainage continues, your surgeon may suggest for you to go in the OR and have a new drain put in.

My recommendation for you to limit your activity level and wear your compression garment until your seroma gets better. Best of luck to you.

To learn more, please visit our page on potential complications of a tummy tuck procedure.

Siamak Agha, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

The Common Occurrence Of Seromas After Tummy Tucks

+2

Once you have developed a seroma after a tummy tuck, it is rare to just have to drain it one time. Usually it will take around four or more weekly aspirations (taps) until fluid no longer accumulates. Fortunately this is not a surgical problem and is a nuisance that is easily dealt with in a quick office procedure. While you are in the seroma phase, do not do heavy exercise or walk extended amounts as this causes more fluid to build up. Also wear your compression binder until the seroma no longer returns.

Barry L. Eppley, MD, DMD
Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

How Many Times Should I Expect to have a Seroma Drained Post Tummy Tuck?

+2

If you are having aspiration of this seroma more than 3 times in a 10 day time frame. Than I recommend re insertion of a drain to closed suction system. As long as fluid is accumulating than the healing will be delayed. 

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Seroma after tummy tuck

+2

Thank you for the question.

Unfortunately, there is no knowing exactly how many aspiration sessions will be necessary before the seroma  does not recur.  Most of the time however somewhere between 2 and 5 sessions are required.  It may be helpful to apply a “soft” pressure dressing over the area of fluid accumulation and to limit strenuous activity during this time.

Another piece of advice (that may not apply to you specifically) for patients recovering  after tummy tuck surgery has to do with the emotional responses to major surgery.  Patients who are about to undergo tummy tuck surgery spend a lot of time thinking about the physical preparation for the procedure (for example weight loss issues) but do not spend a lot of time thinking about the emotional aspects.

It is not uncommon for patients who undergo the procedure to experience severe “mood swings”. These emotions may range from depression ( “why did I do this to myself”) to elation  (which may lead to over activity). I think it is helpful to be aware that these emotional swings do occur postoperatively. 
Suggestions I have for patients undergoing this procedure: 1. Make sure you have a strong support system in place who have time/patience to take care of you. 2. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. 3. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies. 4. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work too early and let others take care of you (for a change). 5. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the emotional swings that you may experience. 6. Keep in mind the end result!

 I hope this helps.
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Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 794 reviews

Seroms after Tummy Tuck

+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. I have never seen an infection from sterile aspiration of fluid.  If a seroma keeps recurring after an extended period of time of aspiration, It may be advisable to re-open the area and remove the entire capsule, both front and back walls of the capsule, otherwise it will come back.  Drains need to be used, possible tissue glue, internal sutures, use of an irritant to encourage the tissues to grow together.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 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.