Tummy tuck Complications: Seroma
It is normal after any operation for your body to produce fluid. In the tummy tuck operation, a drain is left for a week or two. When your body slows the fluid production down and the healing occurs, your drains will stop producing this normal fluid. Typically, Dr. Khalifeh will remove the drains after a week or two when the fluid reaches less than 30 millimeters per day. Dr. Khalifeh's patient's get a flow sheet to record the fluid output on.
In about 1% of tummy tucks, after the drain is removed, the body produces too much fluid and the fluid starts accumulating. This is called a seroma and this extra fluid needs to be drained.
Fortunately for the tummy tuck patient, the drainage procedure is typically simple. A small needle is inserted into the collection, and the fluid is gently aspirated. Seromas typically disappear after anywhere between 2-5 aspirations.
Seromas do not typically affect the final outcome of the surgery, but do require several more visits to the office to remove this extra fluid.
Compression after aspiration of the seroma is recommended.
The seroma fluid will appear blood tinged in the first few weeks after surgery, or will be clear if the seroma occurs later in the course. This is an important distinction between a seroma, which is a fluid accumulation, and a hemotoma, which is a blood collection. Both are treatable, but a hematoma is a little harder to aspirate and may have a larger risk of infection because bacteria grows better in blood than in the seroma.
Dr. Khalifeh is aspirating a patient's seroma. Fortunately, the area where the needle is inserted is typically numb for about 6 months, so the procedure is essentially painless. With hundreds of tummy tucks performed, Dr. Khalifeh sees a one or two seromas per year, which is expected as this happens in 1% of tummy tuck surgeries. The fluid accumulation will cease after about 3 aspirations and compression with a binder.
Here, the fluid aspirated is shown. This is about 10 cc of fluid. The fluid should be clear-yellow or cool aid colored if it is within a few weeks of surgery.