How Long Does It Take to Assess Whether One Has Seroma Vs Normal Swelling After an Extended TT?

I'm curious if I could be experiencing seroma. Does it take a while to set in or can it happen fast? How long would I have to wait before getting it aspirated? I'm seeing my surgeon in two weeks. Would it be of benefit to see him sooner? My belly is NOT flat! its bumped out. I kind of hope it is seroma so it can be dealt with, even thought that's terrifying! I had my I had surgery 18 days ago.

Doctor Answers 8

Seroma is free fluid, swelling is fluid within tissue


A seroma is a collection of healing fluid between the skin/fat layer of your abdomen and the abdominal wall.  It behaves like fluid in a waterbed since it is free fluid--not contained within tissue.  A seroma should be differentiated from swelling and should be drained as soon as possible.  You should wear your abdominal binder afterwards and you should be evaluated to see if the seroma re-accumulates.

All the best,

Dr Remus Repta

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 166 reviews




It would be easy to determine if you have a seroma, if you press on one side of your tummy and you see a wave of fluid that is called seroma. If there is no waves that mean you are swollen. It takes 6-9 months for all swelling to subside.  Its only 18 days post-surgery give it some time.


Stuart B. Kincaid, MD, FACS (in memoriam)
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
3.3 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

How Long Does It Take to Assess Whether One Has Seroma

Either of these could explain the findings you describe. Your surgeon should be able to distinguish between the two quite readily, and if there is a doubt, he or she could order an ultrasound exam if it is thought to be worthwhile. 

Aspirating a seroma after a tummy tuck should not cause terror. Your abdominal skin is usually quite numb from the surgery, and local anesthetic will be used. 

A call to your surgeon is in order, and a decision can be made over the phone as to whether an earlier visit should be scheduled.

Thanks and best wishes. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

See your plastic surgeon if you think you have a seroma after tummy tuck

Thank you for your question. Typically a seroma takes a week or 2 to develop. If you have a seroma when you tap the swollen area you can usually see movement or a fluid wave across the belly.

Is important that you call your plastic surgeon's office and make an appointment to be seen. If you have a seroma the earlier it is aspirated the better.

Don't wait to have a seroma aspirated

Thank you for your question. Obviously it is impossible to tell whether you just have swelling or a seroma without an evaluation. For that reason, I would see your plastic surgeon sooner than later because, if it is a seroma, it is better to start aspirations or drainage as soon as possible. Seroma's should not be taken lightly. Good luck.

James McMahan, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Seroma vs Swelling following a Tummy Tuck

After a tummy tuck it is normal to experience post operative swelling.  However, if a free collection of fluid accumulates - a seroma - this can sometimes complicate the normal healing process.  If one presses and then releases quickly over the area and notes a fluid wave, this may indicate that a seroma is present.  If it is, your surgeon may want to aspirate it.  Give him/her a call and let them know your concern.  They may want to see you sooner than your scheduled appointment.  Best wishes.

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Seroma or Swelling after Tummy Tuck?

Given your concerns, you will be best off requesting an earlier appointment with your plastic surgeon. Only he/she (not online consultants), after direct examination, will be able to make the diagnosis of a seroma  and provide treatment or reassurance.  Treatment of a seroma (if necessary)  is generally simple and painless.

 Best wishes.


Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

Seroma vs. Swelling

It is quite normal to be swollen after a TT for several weeks.  Are the drains out already?  If so, fluid could have collected to form a seroma.  You might be able to see a fluid wave that can be moved from side to side by pushing on the abdomen, if it is large enough.  An ultrasound would be able to see even small pockets of fluid.  More than likely it is just swelling and will go away on its own over time.

Robert Kratschmer, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 36 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.