Ice or Heat on Area Where Seroma Was Drained?

3&1/2 Wks After Tummy Tuck. I had a area under my stitches that was red and puffy about a week ago took antibiotics and was the same. No infection there was a pocket of blood or seroma under the stitches. This was drained today. Is it good to use ice or heat on that area? It is alittle sore.

Doctor Answers 2

Ice or heat after a tummy tuck


  NEITHER is the answer and be very careful thinking you can do this.  The area above the incision does not have sensation and you can easily get a frost bite burn/blisters from ice and not know it and equally so, you can mistakenly put too much heat on this sensitive tissue and burn it.

  Let it alone as the healing takes place and discuss it all with your plastic surgeon.

Albany Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Use neither ice nor heat on seroma site.

Even though you did not have any apparent response from antibiotic therapy, seromas do not cause anything other than a bulge (NO redness), so your description of "red and puffy" is a bit troublesome to me. Aspirating a seroma is one thing, and a pink or red scar (not yet mature, that takes 6-8 months or more) is not unusual, but "red and puffy" makes me a little concerned.

However, you had your seroma aspirated, presumably by your surgeon, so he or she got a good look at this area, and I would follow your surgeon's advice. If you are still on antibiotics, this may indeed be slightly more than just a seroma. But if you had non-cloudy seroma fluid aspirated, and your incision looks fine, and there is no redness visible after the aspiration. you probably have a seroma only. Neither heat nor cold is recommended. Heat can cause burning and blistering in healing skin that has not regained protective sensation, and cold only serves to reduce circulation. (Cold does help reduce swelling, but not the kind of swelling that a fluid-filled cavity causes).

Keep an eye on that area. If you see an increase in redness, swelling, pain, or start to drain any pus, see your doctor pronto! Good luck!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

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