Is it possible to develop a seroma while drains are still in place?

I am 10 days post op and still have two drains in. Both drains have been under 30 ml for the past 48 hours. I flew home (with the drains) and noticed when I got home and removed my compression garment that it appears I have a seroma. Is it possible to develop a seroma while drains are still in place?

Doctor Answers 10

Seroma while drain in place

You could possibly especially if a drain is clogged or partially clogged.  However you are just 10 days out so it could just have swelling or residual fluid especially if you had liposuction.  I would give your doctor a call t let she/he know your concerns.

El Paso Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Is it possible to develop a seroma while drains are still in place?


The drains could be clogged or twisted during the trip home. You may not have your drains on suction. Also, there might be a loculated seroma that does not have access to he drains. You may also have swelling, hematoma, or infection unrelated to a seroma. Call your doctor and ask him about  the correct management of the drains, including how to "strip" the drains which might help. Also, make sure to visit your surgeon  as soon as possible. Daniel Golshani, M.D., Beverly Hills.

S. Daniel Golshani, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Yes a seroma can occur with drains in place

Yes it is possible for a seroma (or hematoma for that matter) to occur with drains in place. As the tissues heal, the areas in contact with the drains can become separated from other areas and these areas can collect fluid. These can usually be tapped easily in the office. Contact your surgeon.

Robert M. Kachenmeister, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

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Seromas and drains

It is possible but unusual to develop a serum if the drains are still in place.  If the drains are separated from the fluid by part of the tummy tuck which is already stuck down, fluid can accumulate.  The flying is probably not helping.  Is the surgeon that far away?

Seroma drains post op fluid retention edema

Unfortunately, yes, it is possible to develop a Seroma while drains are in place. Fluid can accumulate,  wall itself from the drains and result in a seroma. 
Hopefully, this is not the case.  
It is very important for you to follow up with your board-certified plastic surgeon. If it indeed is a seroma, it may require needle aspiration. 


The simple answer is YES - if the drains are plugged or the fluid is not in contact withe the drains it can occur so see your surgeon

Dr Corbin

Frederic H. Corbin, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Seroma with drains in place.

Consider taking a photo with your digital phone.  E-mail the picture to the treating doctor.  As you are at a distance, perhaps you will get an answer to your situation.  Of course, you can see a local plastic surgeon for reassurance and possible treatment.

H. Michael Roark, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

#TummyTuck - Is it possible to develop a seroma while drains are still in place?

It is possible.  It is even more possible if there is very little drainage from the drains, as they may be clogged or otherwise not functioning well.

But it could be many other things, including swelling, that you cannot reasonably diagnose on your own.  If you have flown home you should now contact your plastic surgeon and see if he or she has a relationship with a plastic surgeon near you who can take a quick look at you.  If not, you should search for a board-certified plastic surgeon near you who could do that.

But who was going to take out your drains?  Maybe you can contact that person and get some guidance.

Either way, I'm sorry for your concerns.  Fortunately they may not be justified but you'll need a PS to help guide you at this point.

I hope that this helps and good luck,

Dr. Alan Engler
Member of RealSelf100

Is it possible to develop a seroma while drains are still in place?

At just 10 days post op the fullness you have noted may be a seroma or just normal post operative swelling.  If there are blood clots in the drain tubes this can prevent the drains from working properly.  Check with your surgeon, they may be able to show you how to "milk" the drain tubes to aid them in functioning properly.  Best wishes, Dr. Lepore.

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Is it possible to develop a seroma while drains are still in place?

I am sorry to hear about your concerns after tummy tuck surgery. Yes, it is possible to develop a  fluid accumulation, despite having drains in place. This may be because the drains are not functioning properly and/or the fluid accumulation is in a space not in communication with the drains. It will be important to differentiate a seroma from subcutaneous swelling;  best to run your concerns/questions directly by 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.