Everything You Need to Know About Seromas

By: Courtney Floyd

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What is a seroma?

A seroma is a pocket of yellow-clear fluid (called serum) that collects under the surface of your skin following a trauma or surgery. This fluid is similar to the fluid that circulates in your blood stream known as plasma.

What causes a seroma?

Anytime there is trauma to tissues, the body responds by saturating the affected area with serum as part of the inflammatory response. A great example of this is a fluid filled blister. The inflammation brings in healthy white blood cells that aid in the immune response and help to fight infection. This protective reaction is what causes a seroma.

What are the signs of a seroma?

Seromas typically appear several days following surgery. They can also appear several weeks later after surgical drains have been removed. The first sign of a seroma is a lump or bulge under the skin near the surgery site. The lump may be tender to the touch, but often are not painful. In larger seromas, fluid may drain from the incision site.

How are seromas treated?

Small seromas tend to heal on their own as the body will reabsorb the fluid once the inflammation has ceased and does not require medical treatment

Large seromas typically require treatment.

  • oDraining
  • §During an in-office procedure, the doctor will insert a needle into the seroma site and using a syringe, will suction the fluid out. This may need to be performed more than once.
  • oRe-inserting a surgical drain which is typically done with the help of our radiology colleagues
  • oAdditional surgery may be indicated if a seroma is recurring or if it becomes infected

What are signs of infection?

Signs of infection include:

  • Fevers (greater than 101oF)
  • Worsening pain
  • Redness
  • Cloudy/yellow discharge (pus)
  • General worsening of medical condition or “feeling sick”

Remember, seromas can occur any time there is trauma to the body. It is important to breast reconstruction patients to be aware of the signs and to contact their surgeon if they suspect a seroma may be forming.

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