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Seroma (Fluid Build-Up)

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A seroma is a build-up of clear bodily fluids in a place on your body where tissue has been removed by surgery.

Seromas can happen after the following surgeries to treat breast cancer:

  • lumpectomy
  • mastectomy
  • lymph node removal

Seromas can appear about 7 to 10 days after surgery, after the drainage tubes have been removed. The breast area involved in the surgery may have a spot that's swollen and feels like there is liquid under the skin.

Managing a seroma

Most seromas are reabsorbed back into your body in about a month, but in some cases it can take up to a year. If the area becomes painful or the seroma doesn't improve, your doctor can drain the seroma. In some cases, the seroma may have to be drained more than once.

Tell your doctor if:

  • the amount of fluid seems to be increasing or the seroma is putting pressure on the healing area
  • you notice signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, or tenderness
  • the swelling increases — this could be a sign of arm lymphedema

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