What to do if I suspect fluid is being retained after a tummy tuck?

tummy tuck risksEvery type of operation carries a series of risks and rewards and, as a patient, it is important to understand exactly what these are.

For patients who wish to undergo an abdominoplasty, one of the tummy tuck risks is fluid retention following the surgery.

Why would fluid gather after an operation?

One common side effect of many different operations is that the body becomes unable to control fluid around the site of the operation and the result is it begins to pool. This is known as a ‘seroma’. When this happens, it forms a blister-type scenario underneath the surface of the skin. Sometimes this will drain naturally as the body continues to heal, but in other cases you will need to return to surgery for some professional help in draining the fluid.

What will this look and feel like?

If you have liquid pooling beneath the skin it will probably feel like a large lump, which is hard and tender if you press it. Generally speaking, if you have developed a seroma it will ooze a clear liquid from the incision site when you press down gently on it. In some cases, the seroma may have become infected too, and if that’s the case this clear liquid will become cloudy or streaked with blood, and more often than not will start to develop an unpleasant smell.

When to seek help

Many seromas will drain naturally as part of the healing process following a surgical procedure, so keep an eye on it and you probably only need to consult a doctor or your plastic surgeon if it looks to be getting worse. Indicators that you have developed a more serious problem are if your seroma is accompanied by a fever, has fluid that has turned white in colour or contains a lot of blood, feels very sore around the site, swells quickly or is hot to touch.

If any of these warning signs are present, seek medical help quickly as you have probably developed an infection and this will need to be treated quickly to avoid it developing into something more serious. The process for draining seromas is quite simple; the surgeon will insert a series of small tubes to drain the fluid away. This may need to be done over several appointments, as the problem may continue to persist after the first draining, before the site is fully healed and the body can return to dealing with fluids in the normal way.