4 Weeks Post Op Tummy Tuck Drains Removed. Starting to Notice Fluid in Lower Belly?

I had a breast augmentation,full tummy tuck and lipo. I had one drain taken out a week ago and the other one 2 days ago. Starting to see fluid in my lower bellie right above scar. Prob is I live in Ma and went to CA to have surgery done. Now I am in Ma how long should I wait before I should be concerned? I was told to massage my bellie and push outward towards my hips. HELP!!!!!! I"m so worried that because I am not in Ca anymore and I dont think a doc will see me. I might have to go to the ER.

Doctor Answers 10

Seroms after Tummy Tuck

Thank you for your post. Seromas can be painful and cause a cosmetic deformity, as well as sometimes leak. The whole point of drains is to keep a seroma from happening in the first place. If a drainless procedure was performed, and you had a seroma, or you had drains that were pulled and you subsequently had a seroma, then you should be drained, otherwise a capsule builds around the fluid making it permanent. If a capsule builds around the seroma (pseudo bursa or encapsulated seroma) then the only way to remove the seroma is to surgically open the areas and excise the capsule, and close over drains to prevent another seroma from happening. If the seroma is encapsulated and is tight and painful, then it can be confused with just swelling or fat. An ultrasound is useful in distinguishing these and identifying the extent of the seroma. If the seroma is not yet encapsulated, then it is usually loose and has a 'fluid wave' or water bed type feel. Occasionally, a seroma can also become infected, especially if a permanent braided suture was used. This will have a hot, red appearance, and will eventually open up. I have never seen an infection from sterile aspiration of fluid. If seromas continue despite multiple aspirations over an extended period of time, then you need to start thinking about re-openning the incision and excising the entire capsule, both from and back walls, to treat the seroma. Drains need to be placed, internal sutures placed, possibly using a tissue glue or irritant to encourage the tissues to grow together.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Seroma after tummy tuck

It sounds like you might be experiencing a fluid collection a.k.a. seroma.  It generally can be treated with drainage procedures that can be easily done with the help of a tiny amount of local.   Following percutaneous drainage, you will need to compress the area.  You may need additional drainage treatments.  Please see a PS in your area.  Best of luck.

C. Bob Basu, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 211 reviews

Seroma Formation After Abdominoplasty

Your body is in the process of forming a collection of fluid known as a Seroma.  This needs to be drained and I recommend you see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in your area.  In my practice, I use a simple system called a Seromacath.  It can be put in at the doctor's office under local in about 5 minutes, and surgeons who are experienced in their use can treat your situation quickly and easily 95 times out of 100. 


If I were you, I would call your plastic surgeon in California and ask him for recommendations for plastic surgeons you might see in your local area.  As Board Certified Plastic Surgeons, we are also well-networked.  We all at times need the aid of another plastic surgeon in another State, and therefore, most of us are very willing to see other plastic surgeon's patients.  In my practice, I see them for free.  It is great for the patient, it helps the other plastic surgeon, and it brings on really good karma. 



Complication after out-of-town surgery

This is a recurring problem with patients who leave town for surgery. It sounds like you have a fluid collection, and it will not go away by itself. Try calling plastic surgeons in your area, and if that fails, see if your primary physician can make a recommendation.

Either of those will be less expensive than a trip to the ER.( Going back to California may be cheaper than a trip to the ER). In my community I've seen bills upward of $2000 for ER treatment of plastic surgery complications. 


Good luck.

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

Aspiration may be needed, contact a local surgeon for help.

It’s not unusual for tummy tuck patients to develop seromas when drains are removed prematurely.Under these circumstances, patients often notice pain and discomfort.
Once a seroma forms, serial percutaneous aspirations with a needle and syringe are necessary.If this continues, percutaneous CT-guided drain placement may be necessary as well.Seroma removal helps decrease the potential for infection and wound breakdown.For these reasons, it’s important that you see a plastic surgeon with experience in this area who can treat this condition.
The plastic surgery community is relatively small.For this reason, you should contact your original plastic surgeon.Your surgeon probably knows a plastic surgeon in Massachusetts who will be able to help you with this problem.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Out of town surgery care for a complication

It is possible that you have a seroma.  This will need to be drained.  If your surgery was out of town it would be best to find a local plastic surgeon willing to take on your care.  When I get these calls I require a copy of the patient's operative report so I can understand what was done and how to best care for the problem.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Tummy tuck, mommy makeover, seroma formation


  It sounds like you have a seroma formation and you will need to have it drained or have another drain put in called a serocath.  This is annoying but it works.

  The longer you keep the fluid in your abdomen, the longer your body looks at it and starts getting slick covering on the pocket (capsule).  If this forms long enough, then you will need further surgery to freshen up the surfaces of the tissues to get them to stick and obliterate the pocket containing fluid.

  I am sure that you can find a plastic surgeon to follow you in Ma.  We see patients that have had surgery elsewhere and take care of them with the understanding that their care is too difficult at a distance.  I would like to think that any patients of mine at a distance would be taken care of by closer plastic surgeons.

   Here is a deal.  I am in Albany, New York.  If you are in Ma, then you cannot be too far.  Try more local plastic surgeons but come and see me if you are having difficulty.   I might very well know your doctor too.

       Steven M. Lynch, M. D.   1-518-438-0505 

Steven M. Lynch, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Seroma after Tummy Tuck and Plastic Surgeon out of State?

As you know, you may be experiencing the development of a seroma  after tummy tuck surgery. Aspiration will likely be necessary. It may be helpful to you to have your operating plastic surgeon directly communicate with  a plastic surgeon colleague in your area. This direct communication may facilitate you connecting with a reputable plastic surgeon in your area. I think you will be better off seeking this consultation as opposed to an emergency room visit.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

Fluid Collection or Seroma after Tummy Tuck

You should make an appoinment with a local plastic surgeon to be evaluated.

Seromas are not uncommon after an abdominoplasty or "tummy tuck".  Most are treated by removal of the fluid with a tiny needle.

Melissa Johnson, MD
Springfield Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Tummy Tuck Fluid

This fluid collection is a relativel common problem seen after tummy tuck surgery. It is not an emergency, but you need to be seen by a plastic surgeon. The fluid can either be aspirated with a needle but this might need to be performed multiple times, or a drain may need to be placed again. This will usually not affect your final cosmetic result.You should call your plastic surgeon and discuss this with him. He can probably find you a plastic surgeon in your area who would be willing to see you without having to find one via the emergency room.

George W. Weston, MD
Reston Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 43 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.