Seroma to Lower Back After Tummy Tuck and Lipo... What Can I Do?

I am 16 days post op from a full tummy tuck, lipo, and fat transfer to the buttocks. I had some complications, ended up needing 7 units of blood. Anyway, I seem to be healing, but I am concerned about excessive swelling in my lower back. It is spongy to the touch, and feels like a water balloon. I'm sure it's a seroma. The problem is, since I had my surgery in Florida, no doctors back here in PA (where I live) want to help me with this complication. What do I do? The swelling and 'sponginess' is very bad!

Doctor Answers 9

Multiple significant problems following tummy tuck and liposuction performed in another state

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Sorry that you had and have such significant problems following your surgery that also, unfortunately, was done long distance and is is presenting with additional but predictable issues. What type of doctor performed your surgery? Were they board certified? Losing 7 units of blood is more than unusual.

Regarding your present issue, you need to contact the surgery in Florida who performed your surgery and seek resolution of your problem. That may involve flying back down there or having him/her contacting plastic surgeons in your area and arranging for some care. It is understandable and rational that your local physicians don't want to get involved in your issue due to liability concerns.

Good luck!

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Seroma post lipo

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This is always a difficul;t question what to do.I would ask your surgeon who did the procedure if he has a friend or colleague he knows who might assit can always go to the er and they will refer you to a plastic surgeon.

Robert Brueck, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Complications after large surgery far from home.

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Patients who travel far from home to have surgery often do not consider the issues that could occur should there be a complication. Sometimes the only recourse is to present to the emergency room for care. The first step should be to stay in close contact with the operating surgeon in Florida. If it is financially impossible for you to continue follow up with this surgeon, perhaps they know a colleague in your area they can refer you to.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Complications after tummy tuck and liposuction

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It is hard to comment without examining you.  The sponginess may be due to swelling, seroma, or hematoma.  If the area of swelling increases and discomfort does not subside, you may need intervention.  I would encourage you to go back to your plastic surgeon or whether he can give you a referral to a plastic surgeon nearby you.

Complications following surgery far from home - What to do

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Complications following surgery in  a different part of the country or world is unfortunately a familiar scenario these days and I am so sorry you are having such a tough time. Surgery done far away and now complications after any surgery is scary to the patient and problematic.

I would recommend that you contact your surgeon. He/she will recommend that either you return for their personal treatment or else will most likely contact a colleague close to where you live and ask for their  assistance. Direct  plastic surgeon to Plastic Surgeon communication will likely be more effective than you trying to start this process on your own.

I hope the rest of your healing process will be more straight forward

Seroma After Liposuction & Tummy Tuck, And Traveling A Long Distance For Surgery

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Sorry to hear about your unfortunate situation. No one expects complications to occur, but your story helps to illustrate that many plastic surgical procedures are significant and need to be taken seriously. Because patients don’t expect complications to occur, most never consider the possibility that they may feel isolated if they have to deal with a complication after traveling to have surgery in another state or country.

Many surgeons do not want to help the unfortunate patients in these situations because they do not want the hassle of dealing with a complication caused by another doctor; and they do not want to incur the expense of treating a patient that may not want to spend more money, to care for a complication, after having paid a different doctor to perform the surgery. Plus, it is my assumption that most surgeons have good relationships with their patients and feel some obligation to care for them; and they are in the best situation to do so following a complication. So when confronted with this situation, the initial recommendation is to request that the patient follow-up with the doctor that performed the surgery.

The use of compression garments following liposuction usually results in rather uniform swelling. But occasionally an isolated area may become excessively swollen without a seroma being present. Some surgeons may choose not to use a compression garment when liposuction is performed in combination with a tummy tuck. Your description does seem consistent with a seroma or hematoma/liquefying hematoma.

Seromas following liposuction are uncommon - they occur in only a few percent of cases. If a seroma does occur, it needs to be treated to facilitate the healing process, to reduce the risk of subsequent infection, and to optimize contour. Treatment usually consists of aspirating the seroma; this process can be repeated every few days as needed until the seroma has resolved. If the seroma is large this quickly becomes rather time consuming and treatment may be required every day. If it is suspected that a seroma may be difficult to manage, then placing a drain may be a better option; the drain tube remains in place until the drainage subsides.

Given the history you provide, what type of discussions did you have with your doctor regarding traveling back home and the need for follow-up care? It should have been obvious (to your surgeon) that you were gong to need more care, and he/she should have helped to prepare you and plan for this.

Treatment options consist of returning to your original surgeon, finding a surgeon locally to assist you, or presenting to a local urgent care or emergency room for treatment. Each has its benefits, drawbacks, and associated costs. If you require frequent office visits, then treatment near your home may be the easiest for you; ask your surgeon to help find you a doctor who is willing to care for you locally. I hope this resolves well and quickly for you.

Best wishes, Ken Dembny

Kenneth Dembny, II, MD
Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Complications after Tummy Tuck Surgery done Long Distance?

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Thank you for the question.

I'm sorry to hear about the complication you have experienced. You really only have 2 good choices:

1. Return to see your surgeon in Florida for definitive diagnosis and treatment.

2. Ask your plastic surgeon (Florida)  to make contact and ask for assistance from a plastic surgeon in your area. Often this communication from one plastic surgeon to another will be effective and allow you to be taking care of in your home state.

Best wishes.

Long distance complication

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I am sorry to hear about your complication. It does illustrate a difficulty in having surgery elsewhere. Have you been in contact with your Florida surgeon? If physicians in Pennsylvania are reluctant to take on another doctor's postop complications, you should consider presenting to the emergency room. I must say that I have never personally had a patient who required transfusion, not to mention 7 units, and cannot understand why you either chose or were permitted to return home after this problem. Your alternative is to get on a plane back to Florida if you are comfortable with your original surgeon and remain under his care until your condition has resolved.

Seroma or swelling

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The first thing I would ask is, have you spoken to your surgeon?  Even if you're that far away I'm sure they would want to have contact with you. What arrangements did they make with you for any post-op care? It sound like you went through quite an ordeal to have required 7units of blood.  

If you truly have a seroma it needs to be drained. Perhaps your primary care doctor can assist you in finding care closer to home.  A direct referral can sometimes help.  Or they can refer you to a radiologist who can perform an ultrasound and possibly place a drain.  Hopefully, it's just post-op swelling and won't require any other interventions. Good luck.

Cynthia M. Poulos, MD
Northborough Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 17 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.