Is this normal swelling for a tummy tuck? Recurring seroma reasons? (photo)

I will be (3) weeks post op tmwr. (2)drains on sides removed day( 4) and the (2) in front were removed day (9)......(4) days later I swelled up had (1) tube put back in and told had seroma. (6) days later the drain removed. I was given an antibiotic & told to wear binder another 48 hours. (2) days later is today and I am swollen again and my belly is soft. .I see the doctor tomorrow. .. What causes a seroma? is this my fault?

Doctor Answers 10

Seroma after Tummy Tuck

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   Seroma after tummy tuck can be a frustrating problem.  I usually leave drains until there is very little drainage, and I make patients wear the compression garment for 4 to 6 weeks.  I have not had issues with this protocol after hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of tummy tucks.  At this point, you may need further drainage.  Hang in there.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

It could be normal!

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Based on the description it looks like you still have some collection of the fluid. The fluid needs to be drained and closely monitored by your surgeon. It happens sometimes after the drains are removed -some fluid will still collect and aspiration is needed. When it happens patients feel swollen, full and very uncomfortable.   Some patients have drains removed after 4-5 days and this problem never occurs.  Seroma usually gets resolved with time.  Patient needs to be patient; unfortunately monitoring the fluid collection requires more frequent trips to doctor’s office.

Seroma After Tummy Tuck

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The number one complaint from a tummy tuck is that people hate the drains.  The reason why we use drains is to collect the natural healing fluid that the body produces to prevent this fluid from building up and causing a seroma.  The picture that you have submitted is worrisome for a seroma reaccumulation.  Your surgeon may have to drain it again at your next visit.  Good luck.

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Is this normal swelling for a tummy tuck? Recurring seroma reasons? (photo)

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A seroma is a collection of fluid that occurs in an area of dead space after surgery. It can recur with movement or low protein or with continual weeping of the deeper structures.  If unattended it can progress to a bursa needing surgery.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Is this normal swelling for a tummy tuck? Recurring seroma reasons? (photo)

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It appears that you do have a seroma that needs to be drained.  If not drained then a bursa can develop which would need open surgical intervention to correct it.  A seroma is a collection of fluid in a space that has usually been created following surgery. It can recur for a number of reasons.  The usage of  progressive tension sutures tends to discourage formation of the seroma.

Thomas Guillot, MD
Baton Rouge Plastic Surgeon

Recurrent Seroma Deserves Further Attention

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Thank you for your question. It appears that you have a recurrence of a large seroma.  In some patients a low protein level associated with gastric bypass can contribute to recurrent seromas.  Most patients recover uneventfully with additional treatment. Discuss these issues further with your surgeon tomorrow. All the best.

Recurrent Seroma

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It appears that your seroma has reoccurred.  Seroma is a product of natural weeping of healing tissue.  You need a drain replaced and continued use of your garment.  Sometimes medications can be given through the drain to help scar down the space that the seroma wants to accumulate.  If that does not resolve the issue then a surgery to remove that cavity that seroma collects in is warranted.

Dr. ES

Recurring Seroma after Tummy Tuck

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Seromas may form after many types of surgery. If it does not resolve with drains, your surgeon may want to consider using a sclerosing medication to eliminate it. 

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Seroma after tummy tuck

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A seroma is an annoying problem after it happens and isn't usually anybody's fault.....just one of those things that can happen.  You can tell if its a seroma if you push on one side of your abdomen and see a wave like you are pushing on a water bed.  Usually seromas settle down with frequent drawing off of the fluid.  Sorry you're having trouble, but I think soon you will be right back on track.

Deborah Ekstrom, MD
Worcester Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Seroma after Tummy Tuck?

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I'm sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing. No, a recurrent seroma is not your ( or anybody else's) fault.  As you know, a seroma  is an  accumulation of fluid between the abdominal wall skin ( lifted during tummy tuck surgery) and the underlying musculature.   Although a nuisance, often requiring multiple aspirations, these fluids collections do not usually lead to a long-term problem and/or detract from the final results of the procedure performed.

 Continue to keep in close communication/follow-up with your plastic surgeon.

 Best wishes.

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.