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Why manual seroma drainage should be considered over surgical drainage when possible.

Seeing as cosmetic surgeries are on the rise and becoming more popular in the UK and as we all know the recovery isn’t as smooth as we all like to think. Due to this, it is important to understand one of the most common post-surgery complications associated with many surgeries… seromas and how to manage and treat them effectively without hindering your healing and recovery. Seromas can occur after any type of surgery, but it is most common complication occurring in 15% to 30% of tummy tuck procedures. Other surgeries that can result in seromas are liposuction, BBL (Brazilian Butt Lifts), breast enlargements and mastectomy.

Let me explain quickly what a seroma is?........

Seromas are a mass of built-up of clear/yellowish fluid under the skin which forms a pocket within the tissue. This can occur a few days or even weeks after your surgery. One study found that there was a higher percentage of a seroma between days 11 (38%) and 18 (33%) post-surgery, lowering to 19% on day 32. Therefore, it is most evident that seromas can develop around two weeks even up to a month post-surgery.

The main cause of the formation of a seroma is due to surgery or a trauma where a large amount of tissue has been removed or disrupted. This trauma extremely comprises, damages, or removes your lymphatic vessels and pathways, which results in fluid accumulating and not being able to be filtered and removed properly. So cosmetic procedures such as tummy tuck are more common to developing seromas due to the nature of surgery where the stomach and groin lymph nodes are damaged.

Many assume that the most obvious treatment of a seroma is to have it aspirated using a needle to drain the fluid (an additional surgical procedure). However, many surgeons are now advising that you should have manual drainage massage to help drain a seroma that has formed. Most seromas can be reabsorbed into the lymphatic system, it may take a little longer to resolve but it is the most non-invasive way of preventing any additional trauma on your body and doesn’t hinder your healing and recovery as much as if you were to undergo surgical aspiration of the seroma. It is becoming very rare to have them medically drained unless you are experiencing symptoms of an infection where there is no improvement, they are quite large, extremely painful or are causing a fever, redness, or tenderness etc. If this is the case, surgical aspiration would be considered. Furthermore, they are now recommending MLD massage as an early prevention intervention of seromas alongside kinesiology taping techniques, to help aid the drainage of excess fluid following surgery.

Not only is manual drainage less invasive and traumatic it has many benefits on your healing and recovery including less swelling, pain, discomfort, and reduction of scar tissue. Advanced massage techniques are used to stimulate and boost your lymphatic system and with light pressure and pumping techniques over the seroma and around the area with help manually drain the excess fluid and guide it to the lymph nodes where it will be filtered and eliminated. AND added bonus … you can start MLD massage pretty much straight after your surgery (this will be assessed and discussed with both your surgeon and therapist and can vary depending on the individual).

So, all in all, manual drainage via massage compared to surgical intervention is becoming the preferred intervention to help treat a seroma but as a preventative intervention too as it is the most beneficial, less invasive way without additional surgery and hindering your healing and recovery, all while boosting your lymphatic system, immune system, reduction of scar formation and swelling.

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