What causes a seroma on a tummy tuck?

What cause a seratoma on a tummy tuck?

Doctor Answers 7

What Causes a Seroma in a Tummy Tuck?

After surgery, the surface of the muscle layer is raw as is the underside of the fatty layer, and they leak fluid. The body absorbs small amounts of fluid, but if the amount is too great, the fluid sits there and accumulates.

The goal is for the muscle layer to heal to the underside of the fat, but every time a patient bends, walks, lifts, etc., the two layers move against each other, preventing them from sticking together and healing. Fluid can continue to accumulate.

If the fluid isn't removed through a drain or a needle and syringe, the body recognizes it as a foreign substance and creates a scar around it. This is caused a "pseudocyst." In rare instances, surgery is required to remove the pseudocyst. 

In my practice, I use the No-Drain Tummy Tuck technique (click on link below) in which the muscle layer is tacked to the fatty layer, making it difficult for a seroma to form.

Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Seroma post tummy

This is a collection of fluid that builds up post op.the most common cause I belive would be excessive activity post op and or early removal of the drain.

Robert Brueck, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

What causes a seroma on a tummy tuck

In the differential diagnosis of TT seroma we include - old resolving hematoma, exstravastion of tissue fluids into the abdominal flap, infections, etc. Best is to obtain a scan to see the amounts and limits of the seroma...  

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 174 reviews

Seroma after a tummy tuck

A seroma results from fluid filling the space between the abdominal wall and the underside of the flap raised when the tummy tuck is performed.  This can happen for a variety of reasons including the method of raising the flap and other technical factors during the procedure.  Some feel that postoperative activity can also be a factor.

Studies indicate seroma rates approximating 10-20%.  However, many surgeons are able to achieve far lower rates -  down to 1% or even zero.  

In the event a seroma forms after the drains are removed, needle drainage(s) will often take care of the problem. 

Thomas A. Pane, MD
Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 45 reviews


After a surgical procedure like a tummy tuck or liposuction, there is some fluid accumulation from the wound created during the procedure, and if there is a space where it can accumulate and no way to drain out, then the formation of a seroma is very common. If the pocket where the fluid can accumulate is small or there are drains that can allow the fluid to come out, the chances of a seroma are much less.

Juan Carlos Fuentes, MD
Mexico Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

Seroma After Tummy Tuck

Any surgical procedure can lead to a seroma, but when there are large areas of undermining, they seem to be more common.  I typically explain to patients that the body has been injured and it tends to ooze serous fluid.  Since we have closed down the cavity, and there is no place for the fluid to go, it sometimes pools forming a "seroma".  These are typically nothing more than a nuisance, but they are definitely a bummer at times.
Nobody knows the one right way to treat a seroma once it happens, but I typically drain them once a week and I find that they tend to go away within a month or so.  It is rare that they become a problem for very long.
Good Luck!

Thomas P. Sterry, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Seroma After Tummy Tuck

There are many factors that contribute to the development of a seroma after a tummy tuck.  It is actually a very natural thing that your body wants to do with an empty "pocket" in the body, that is created under the skin during a tummy tuck. 

We try to prevent seromas by completely collapsing the new "pocket" of space under the abdominal skin by using drains and compression garments, however sometimes a seroma still forms.  We try to prevent them because they can be very uncomfortable, they can become infected, and they can stretch the tissues we just tightened during the tummy tuck. 

Excessive movement, especially bending and twisting can keep the pocket under the abdominal skin from fully collapsing in order to heal.  Delaying the complete collapse of the abdominal tissues can allow fluid to keep coming in.  Sometimes the fluid pocket (seroma) needs to be drained with a needle and/or treated with medication.  Sometimes surgery is needed to clean up the pocket and start over with healing.

Emily J. Kirby, MD
Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 19 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.