What Are the Signs of a Seroma? (photo)

I am 2.5 weeks postop after a TT with no lipo. I am a bit paranoid about swelling. I want to be sure what is normal and what isn't. Does swelling progressively get better, or does it get worse before it gets better? Normal for more swelling later in the day? Does it vary with activity? From day to day? I want to be sure that what I have is normal for recovery. What are the specific signs of a seroma so I know the difference if it occurs?

Doctor Answers 7

Post Operative Seroma

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Your swelling will progressively improve over time. Initially your body will respond to surgery with swelling as it begins to heal. As your bodies healing process advances the swelling in the operative site decreases. What you may notice is that the swelling will vary according to the level of activity of the patient. Throughout your recovery your surgeon will most likely ask that you wear a compression garment which will help in minimizing the swelling and help you during the healing process.

If a seroma is present this can be discerned by a finding known as a fluid wave under the skin in the area of concern. Once the diagnosis of seroma is confirmed, it should be drained. This is typically done in the office by inserting a needle or catheter to drain the fluid and then reapplying the compression garment. The patient should then be reassessed to insure that  the fluid has not re-accumulated.

Your first step should be to return to your plastic surgeon to discuss your concerns and have an in-person evaluation so as to determine the best course of action. Thank you for the question and picture.

Good luck.

Fluid wave is most characteristic sign of seroma

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Thank you for the question and photo.  The most characteristic sign of a seroma is a fluid wave, which is like tapping a waterbed and seeing the wave from the fluid inside the bed move away.  If this is the case you do have a seroma and it should be aspirated and re-assessed until no additional fluid accumulates.  Although swelling does tend to vary through the healing process the overall trend should be a decrease in swelling.

All the best,

Dr Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 170 reviews

Signs of a seroma

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Thank you for the question and for the photo. It is normal to have some swelling 2-3 weeks after a tummy tuck, and this can certainly vary throughout the day depending on your level of activity.  The swelling that occurs with a seroma differs in its presentation. A seroma doesn't vary throughout the day and produces a fluid wave when pressed on. This looks like a waterbed under the skin. If a seroma occurs, it requires drainage to allow proper healing.

The only way to be sure of what is going on with your belly would be to be seen by your plastic surgeon. They can examine your belly and decide how best to proceed.

Good luck with your remaining recovery.

Jeff Rockmore

New swelling with fluid wave after tummy Tuck is likely a seroma

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Thank you for your question. If the swelling that you see at the bottom of your tummy is new then it may well be a seroma.

One way to check is to lightly tapped on one side of the swelling and diffuse see a fluid wave role across the skin that is a shadow or evidence of movement then it is likely a seroma.

By all means please be examined by your plastic surgeon for follow-up

Seroma Diagnosis after Tummy Tuck Surgery?

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The sign of a seroma is a “fluid wave”;  this physical examination finding is similar to what you may feel on  the surface of a waterbed/mattress.  Generally, your plastic surgeon will be able to differentiate the difference between swelling and seroma on physical examination. Sometimes, aspiration of the concerned area may be necessary to rule out a seroma.

 I hope this helps.

What Are the Signs of a Seroma?

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From the photo, I would be suspicious that there is a seroma. FIndings are an area of swelling, often with a fluid wave. That is if you touch is, a wave is visible over the area, much like the sensation of pressing on a water bed. If you were my patient who sent me this photo, I would want to see you to deal with this.

Thanks, best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Seroma after a tummy tuck

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Thanks for your question and photo.  Based on your picture, it does look like you have a seroma on your wer abdomen.  Make sure you follow up with your surgeon as this may need to be drained; sometimes a small catheter may be re-introduced called a seroma cath to continuously drain the fluid.  Also make sure you wear your garment and binder all the time until the swelling resolves.

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.