How Can You Tell if You Have a Seroma or Just Swelling? I Had a TT 17 Days Ago and Very Puffy Under my Incision

How Can You Tell if You Have a Seroma or Just Swelling? I Had a TT 17 Days Ago and Very Puffy Under my Incision

Doctor Answers 14

Swelling Versus Seroma

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Go see you doctor.  Its easy to tell.  If seroma you will get fluid waves like in the ocean when you tap on one side.  Look in a mirror.  Tap The right side.  Do you see a wave.   Little seromas are hard to see but are insignificant so it does not matter anyway.   Wear a tummy binder as much as you cah on lower abdomen.  This corrects either problem.  If seromadont worry. They go away 99.9% of time.   Sometimes draining a seroma speeds the resolution.  You will be fine.   Best,  Dr Commons

Sometimes its difficult...

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The main way that the physician tells is if a fluid wave is present - think of tapping one edge of a water bed and feeling the wave come to the other side (I think that shows my age!) Soft tissue swelling is a little more firm with no wave. Basically, you need to see your surgeon for an exam. Good Luck!

Contact your PS to relieve any anxiety!

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It’s not unusual for patients to develop swelling following abdominoplasty surgery. This swelling is easily differentiated from seroma formation on physical examination.When seromas are present they’re usually accompanied by a fluid wave.
Most swelling resolves in six to eight weeks, but small amounts of swelling may persist for up to a year.Patients can minimize swelling with compression garments, massage and limitations on physical activities.It’s important to remember that swelling is a normal part of wound healing and should resolve with time.
Occasionally seromas develop following abdominoplasty surgery.In most cases, seromas resorb without intervention.When larger seromas are encountered serial aspirations may be necessary in combination with compression garments.
If you’re concerned about this issue, it’s important to contact your plastic surgeon.Your surgeon should be able to differentiate these conditions and institute appropriate treatment.

Diagnosing a seroma after a tummy tuck

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You are in the right time frame for a seroma.  It can be differentiated from tissue swelling clinically by tapping on one side of the abdomen and seeing a water-bed like fluid wave rumble across to the other side.  If that doesn't happen, it is probably just tissue swelling.  An ultrasound can also be done to be sure but the need for that is rare.

Seroma after tummy tuck?

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Your surgeon is the best person to consult - you need a physical exam.  Swelling below the incision line or in the pubic area is fairly common following tummy tucks, and this may take a while to completely resolve (but it will!) 

Seroma vs. Swelling

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Significant swelling early in the postop period after drain removal is always concerning for seroma formation.  I will often recommend an ultrasound if I am unsure or sterile drainage if it is palpable.

I would recommend close followup with your plastic surgeon.

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon

Your surgeon should know

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Please discuss this with your surgeon, he should be able to tell you and reccomend treatment as indicated, good luck.

Seroma after Tummy tuck

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As a patient you may be able to distinguish seroma  from swelling by feeling for a fluid wave. If you place your hand on one side of the area of concern and you feel a “wave” sensation with your other hand (on the other side of the area of concern)  you likely have a  seroma.  Your surgeon will be able to make the diagnosis; often, several aspirations may be necessary to resolve the problem.

I hope this helps.

"Puffy" abdomen following a tummy tuck

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Seromas as well as significant swelling of the abdomen are very common during the period of time that you are at following your abdominoplasty. Typically a seroma will appear as an undulating fluid wave whereas swelling is more firm and fixed.

You should contact your plastic surgeon who can then assess your situation and take appropriate action if indicated.


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A fluid wave is what we use to determnine a free fluid collection. It is difficult to determine if you are not trained in this clinical exam. You must go to your plastic surgeon and he can tell immediately. If a seroma he will need to remove the fluid.

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.