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Seroma - A Complication

Published on May 26, 2023   -  4 min read


Seroma is the abnormal buildup of serous fluid in a lymphatic and plasma-filled dead space. It is a frequent postoperative complication in plastic surgery.

What Is Seroma?

A seroma is a condition where a pocket of clear fluid gathers beneath the skin's surface or inside a bodily cavity, usually as a result of surgery or trauma. Although it can happen everywhere in the body, it usually does so in places where tissue has been cut out or where there has been a lot of trauma or injury.

After surgery or an injury, seromas can appear and cause pain, swelling, or a feeling of being overburdened in the affected area. They might potentially result in an infection or slow wound healing in some circumstances. Compression therapy, medicines to prevent infection, and surgical or needle drainage of the fluid are all possible treatments. It is crucial to speak with a healthcare professional if one thinks he has a seroma in order to get the right diagnosis and treatments.

What Is the Cause of Seroma?

Although the precise reason for the cause of seroma is not entirely understood, it is thought to be caused by a disturbance of the blood or lymphatic vessels in the affected area. Surgery or trauma may cause this disruption, which results in the buildup of clear fluid (serum) within the human tissues. The body's normal healing response during surgery results in the creation of fluids that accumulate in the operative site. A seroma can develop if this fluid gathers. The size and location of the operation, the use of drains, and a history of radiation therapy or past surgery are some factors that may raise the chance of seroma formation. Infection, inflammation, obesity, and the use of specific drugs, such as blood thinners, are additional variables that may contribute to the development of seromas. The cause of a seroma may not always be known.

What Are the Risk Factors of Seroma?

The chance of getting a seroma can be affected by a number of factors, such as:

  • Surgery: Surgical procedures, particularly those involving the removal of tissue or organs, are most frequently linked to sarcomas.

  • Trauma: Serious trauma, including a piercing wound or blunt force trauma, can also cause a seroma to form.

  • Usage of Surgical Drains: If surgical drains are used after surgery, there is a chance that seroma will occur, especially if the drains are not inserted or removed correctly.

  • Obesity: Since excess body fat can impede the body's natural healing process, obesity raises the risk of getting a seroma following surgery.

  • Radiation Therapy: Those who have received radiation therapy could be more susceptible to seroma development.

  • Infection: An infection at the surgical site can make seroma formation more likely.

  • Age: As the body's natural healing mechanism alters with age, older people may be more at risk of getting a seroma.

  • Specific Drugs: Taking some drugs, like blood thinners, may make seroma formation more likely.

It is crucial to remember that not everyone who possesses one or more of these risk factors will inevitably develop a seroma; in fact, some individuals may experience the onset of a seroma even in the absence of any known risk factors.

How Does a Seroma Appear?

A seroma often manifests as an under-the-skin lump or enlargement that is soft, fluid-filled, and may feel cushioned or bubble-like. The surrounding area may be red, heated, or swollen, and the lump itself may be sensitive to the touch or painless. A seroma can range in size and location from tiny and isolated to large and distributed, depending on the extent of the operation or damage. A seroma may occasionally be noticeable on the skin's surface as a protrusion or swelling.

It is crucial to remember that a seroma can occasionally be confused with other fluid accumulations, such as an abscess or hematoma, a collection of blood, or a collection of pus. It is crucial to get medical advice if a person thinks that they might have a seroma so that they can receive the right diagnosis and therapy.

What Will Happen if a Seroma Is Left Untreated?

Untreated seromas can result in a number of complications, such as:

  • Infection: A seroma's fluid offers the perfect habitat for bacteria to flourish, raising the possibility of infection. In addition to fever, chills, and other symptoms of a systemic illness, an infected seroma may induce redness, warmth, and tenderness in the affected area.

  • Delayed Healing Process: Seromas can impede the body's normal healing process, delaying wound closure and raising the possibility of problems.

  • Common Complications: A large or prolonged seroma may result in pain, discomfort, and restricted movement, which can affect everyday activities and quality of life.

  • Cosmetic Issues: Visible swelling, bulging, or deformity in the affected area caused by a seroma can be unsightly.

  • Secondary Problems: Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) and nerve damage are two uncommon secondary complications that can result from an untreated seroma.

Hence, it is crucial to get medical help if a person thinks that they can have a seroma, especially if the area in question is showing signs of pain, swelling, or redness. Aspiration (needle drainage of the fluid), compression therapy, surgical drainage, or antibiotics to prevent infection are a few possible treatments.

How to Treat Seroma?

The size, location, and length of the fluid collection, as well as the presence of any accompanying symptoms or consequences, all affect the seroma's management. Seroma therapy options could consist of:

  • Aspiration: Aspiration is the process of removing fluid from a seroma with a needle. In order to prevent a recurrence, this relatively straightforward operation can be repeated as necessary in a clinic or doctor's office.

  • Compression Therapy: It reduces swelling and prevents fluid buildup by applying pressure to the area that has been injured with an elastic bandage or compression garment.

  • Surgical Drainage: It may be required in some circumstances to eliminate the seroma. This could entail making a little cut or puncture to let the fluid drain, then inserting a drainage tube to encourage ongoing drainage.

  • Antibiotics: It may be recommended to treat or prevent infection if the seroma is infected or there is a risk of infection.

  • Observation: A tiny, asymptomatic seroma may occasionally be followed and left untreated because it may disappear on its own without posing any serious consequences.


The optimal course of action for a seroma will depend on a number of variables, including the seroma's size and location, the presence of any accompanying symptoms or problems, and the underlying reason for the fluid buildup. Based on an individual’s unique circumstances, a healthcare expert can assist in choosing the best treatment strategy.

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Last reviewed at:
26 May 2023  -  4 min read


Dr. A K.tiwari

Dr. A K.tiwari

Plastic Surgery-reconstructive And Cosmetic Surgery


Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

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