Plastic surgery can come with risks, and these are generally discussed thoroughly between patients and their surgeons. One such risk is the formation of a seroma.
What’s a seroma? A seroma is a pocket of fluid that develops under the skin after surgery. The fluid is composed of blood plasma secreted from blood vessels and of inflammatory fluids produced by the body in response to trauma.
Why do they happen? As part of many plastic surgery procedures, some of the skin is lifted up from other tissues. This can create spaces where fluid can collect. In some cases, when the skin and tissues have been brought back together following a procedure, these pockets can remain and fill with fluid.
What are the symptoms? Individuals with a seroma will often notice inflammation and swelling, and in some cases can see or feel accumulated fluids. They may notice swollen spots or bumps on the body and have sensations of pressure or tautness in the affected area as if the skin is being pushed against. Seromas will often occur near incision points, in which case the fluids are more likely to be noticeable. The fluid in seromas is clear and without color, although in some cases they may appear slightly red.
Does everyone get seromas after plastic surgery? Although not everyone can be certain they will be affected by seromas following a plastic surgery procedure, many do. Because of the nature of plastic surgery, it can be very difficult to completely avoid seromas, and it is therefore important for patients to comply with post-operation instructions as carefully as possible. This means resting, eating, and elevating as follow the doctor’s advice - and also keeping an eye on the body and your wounds.
What should I do if I have seromas? Before getting plastic surgery, inform yourself about seromas, and discuss them (among other risks) with your doctor. Following surgery, make sure to rest and recover carefully and thoroughly, and to keep an eye on any areas of your body that show indications of a seroma. Learn to tell the difference between harmless, healing seromas, and those that may be problematic - such as those not draining, or becoming tough and hard. Don’t be afraid to contact your physician if you have concerns about the healing process.
Can seromas be a risk? Most seromas heal naturally on their own, as the fluid drains and the wound recovers. In some cases, however, larger seromas or seromas that do not drain on their own may require intervention. This usually means a small draining procedure done with a syringe or other external equipment designed to remove the fluid. In rare cases, seromas can progress to calcification or infection and require surgical intervention to be combatted. For this reason, it is important for individuals undergoing plastic surgery to inform themselves thoroughly of what seromas are and how they should react to them. By doing so, plastic surgery patients can minimize the risk that comes along with seromas.