Under Arm/arm Pit Swelling After Removal of Fatty Breast Tissue? (Photos)

On 12/13/12 (about 3 wks ago), my doctor cut away a section of hanging/flabby skin under my arm (near pit) that was about 3"x4". He also removed fatty tissue. He did incision underarm vs arm lift so less invasive. Still have a "glob" of swelling. Last week, he drained it via needle, got about 3-4 ounces out. I wear a homemade compression garment about 8 hrs/day. WILL THIS SWELLING GLOB GO AWAY eventually? How long will it take? Permanent? Should we do a traditional arm lift (w/ long scar?)

Doctor Answers 7

Seroma Formation After Axillary Breast Tissue Removal

The axillary region has a rich supply of lymphatic tissue. For this reason, it's not unusual for patients who undergo removal of axillary breast tissue to have seroma formation. When this situation arises, serial percutaneous drainage is necessary to avoid secondary complications such as wound breakdown and infection. This type of treatment should be combined with the use of compression garments to avoid recurrence.

When these steps are taken, the vast majority of seromas resolve without difficulty. Rarely when seromas are persistent, CT guided drain placement may be indicated.

It's important to realize that wound healing lasts for 12 to 18 months. Once complete, these procedures yield excellent clinical results and high levels of patient satisfaction.

It's important to maintain good communication with your plastic surgeon during this process. Your surgeon should be able to answer your questions and alleviate your anxiety.

Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Revision WIll Be Necessary

Thank you for this question.  Unfortunately, minimal incision brachioplasty is very ineffective for correcting significant skin laxity.  You will need a revision to address the concerns you have expressed.  Best wishes.

Robert F. Centeno, MD, FACS
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Complication after Arm Lift?

Thank you for the question and pictures.

Based on the description of the events, it sounds like you developed a fluid accumulation (seroma  or hematoma) after surgery. Often, these types of fluid accumulations will recur and may require several needle aspirations.

Only after the fluid accumulation has resolved and your skin has redraped fully should you evaluate the end results of the procedure (3 to 6 months after surgery) and determine whether you are pleased or whether additional surgery may be helpful to you.

 Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,485 reviews

Under Arm/arm Pit Swelling After Removal of Fatty Breast Tissue?

Thanks for the before and after photos. You have 2 issues. The swelling is a seroma/hematoma or could be residual tissue not removed. It usually corrects with good post op care as with aspiration and compression. The second is choosing a short cut operation when you needed a full arm lifting operation. Best to discuss with your chosen surgeon or obtain in person second opinions. 

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 173 reviews

Underarm swelling??

Thank you for your question and for the posted photos. I am having a bit of trouble determining what sort of operations you have had. It looks like you have had a breast lift, but what if anything was done on the arms I am uncertain.

Some pre-op photos would be helpful.

This looks more like loose hanging skin, and I don't expect that resolution of any swelling will make this look better. An arm lift will be the solution. All of this is based on the after photo alone. The suggestions based on an actual exam might well be different.

Best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Arm surgery

From the pictures of the arm the mass could have been accessory breast, or fatty collection.

You had fluid collection after the surgery (seroma). You may have some more fluid collection and needs to be drained.

Meanwhile you need to be wearing a vest with half sleeves to put some compression on the arms. Once the swelling is completely gone then re-evaluate the skin and if you need skin tightening.

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Swelling vs Loose Skin after Arm Lift

     If you do not have buildup of an additional fluid collection in the picture, then you will probably need an extended arm lift.  I usually perform this procedure just to the level that the skin laxity improves.  In you, this is about 1/3 of the way down your arm.

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 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.