Seroma is a term used to describe a localized fluid collection at the surgical site. Typically, seromas occur in any plastic surgery procedure where liposuction is performed and/or when excess skin is removed, creating a potential space for fluid to accumulate. During surgery, the body reacts by releasing hormones that promote fluid and swelling in specific surgical sites.
Seromas are very common after surgery. The problem is how it is defined in different studies. In my experience, seromas occur in more than 50% of patients having surgery within the first 2 weeks. What you need to understand is that seromas are something that you should not be extremely concerned about. Most seromas will disappear by themselves after a few weeks. Most patients develop very small fluid cavities in different areas of the body, but for the most part these fluid collections are small and are resolved by only using a compression.
Girdles are extremely important and are the main treatment to prevent seromas. Even during compression, the fluid gets reabsorbed by the body if you use the girdle 24/7 for the first 4 weeks. Only take the girdle off for a few hours to wash it or to take a shower.
Some patients can develop large seromas and this will require more than compression to resolve. Sometimes seromas need to be drained. When the seroma is drained, essentially all the fluid is removed. Typically, seromas reoccur after draining, but serial drainage ultimately will resolve the problem. Rarely when somebody develops a chronic seroma, surgery needs to be done to place a drain and clean the area of any inflammatory tissue to completely resolve the problems. Also, in some medium-sized seromas after drainage, a steroid named Kenalog is injected in the cavity to help decrease the inflammation.
You should not be extremely concerned if you develop a seroma. Even your plastic surgeon will tell you that seromas are not life threatening. It is just a normal response of the body to injury, and this can be resolved with the treatments mentioned above.
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