Skip to content

What is a Seroma After Plastic Surgery?

What is a Seroma?

Seromas are pockets of fluid that can form under the skin after a surgery such as liposuction or a tummy tuck.  They usually happen in an area where tissue has been removed.  Seromas are a fairly common thing for women to get who have a mastectomy with the removal of a lot of lymph nodes from the underarm, but they can also happen after liposuction or a tummy tuck.


How Can I Tell If I Have a Seroma?

Seromas typically appear like a waterbed under the skin.  If you push on one area you can see or feel a wave of fluid moving under the skin a little ways away from where you are pushing.  

Are Seromas Dangerous?

Seromas are not exactly a dangerous thing, but they are something that you must address.  The majority of seromas will not go away on their own.  Very small ones – about the size of an egg – might go away with minimal intervention if they are caught early enough and you address them right away.

What Should You Do If You Think You Have a Seroma?

Seromas generally need to be drained to the outside of the body.  This is a technique that is illegal for massage therapists to do, so please do not ask your massage therapist to do it.  If a massage therapist offers to do it, check to see if they have a nursing credential or other form of licensure that will permit them to do it legally.  Most massage therapists do not possess an additional valid license to do this type of drainage.  That means it is unsafe.  Don’t do it.

seroma being drained after plastic surgery

Who Can Legally and Safely Drain a Seroma?

When done in a medical environment by someone licensed and insured for this type of work, it is a very safe procedure.  Some plastic surgeons will drain seromas from their own patients.  (It is rare for a surgeon to work on someone who has had surgery in another state.)

Urgent care and the Emergency Room generally will not drain them either.  Your best bet if you had your surgery out-of-town or country is to call up radiology clinics.  Many times these clinics can use ultrasound to guide the placement of the needle and to be sure that they get all of the fluid out.

What Do I Do After My Seroma Is Drained?

After you get your seroma drained, you need to compress the area where it was a bit extra.  This can often be accomplished by putting a folded washcloth or hand towel on top of the foam (which is next to your skin – over a camisole).  That is all stuffed inside your faja.

The reason you need to compress the area after it drained is to make the sides of the “balloon” that held the fluid stick to one another.  Once that happens the seroma cannot swell back up.  The compression needs to be on the area 24 hours a day – except when you take off your faja to shower.  Only leave it off for that time.  Put your faja back on right away.