Swelling and Fluid Build-up After Breast Implant Removal

I had radiation treatment on my left breast in 2000. I had the breast implant removed on March 31st. I am having a real problem with fluid build up. What is causing this and how much longer should I have the fluid drained out by the surgeon? Is additional surgery necessary to relieve this problem? My left breast is very sore!

Doctor Answers 2

Seroma management after radiation of the breast

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It sounds like you have a seroma, a fluid collection in a wound that is a normal part of healing.

Radiation can slow the process of healing and may increase the risk of seroma, infection and other postoperative problems. Unfortunately, the effects of radiation are permanent.

Removal of your implant will have left an empty space, commonly referred to as a "dead space". A suction drain is often placed to remove this fluid as it forms.

A seroma may be drained by inserting a needle into the space and "aspirating" fluid, or by another surgery to insert a drain that will be left in place for a week or two.

Alternatively, the body will gradually absorb this flluid. Gentle compression such as an ACE wrap around the chest can help speed up the rate of fluid absorption.

As long as you do not have signs or symptoms of infection (redness, pain, fever/chills) along with the swelling, there is no urgency to treat your fluid build-up.

If you do have some or all of the symptoms above, see your doctor.

I hope this information helps!

San Francisco Plastic Surgeon

Sounds like a drain or serial drainage may be helpful

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If the fluid build up is noticible and is causing you discomfort, it should be drained. Your history of radiation makes it a bit tougher for the front and the back of the pocket to seal together and a drain may have to stay in for awhile to encourage this. I would return to your plastic surgeon where he/she can evaluate you and develope a plan. Best of luck.

Dr Edwards

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