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A seroma is a build-up of clear bodily fluids in an area where tissue has been removed by surgery.   Seromas can appear after breast cancer surgery, such as a lumpectomy, mastectomy, or lymph node removal. Seromas usually appear about 7 to 10 days after surgery, particularly after the drainage tubes have been removed.


The breast area involved in the surgery may have an area which is swollen and feels like there is liquid under the skin.  Symptoms of a seroma also include swelling near the surgical site and leakage of clear fluid through the incision. The area may or may not be painful.


Most seromas are reabsorbed back into the body within approximately 4-6 weeks, however in some cases it can take up to a year. If the area becomes painful or the seroma doesn't improve, your breast specialist can drain the area during your post-surgical check-up. In some cases, the seroma may have to be drained more than once. Your breast specialist will also monitor this seroma for any signs of infection.  If infection develops, additional symptoms can include leakage of pus, redness, warmth or swelling, tenderness, or fever and chills.


The preferable way to manage seroma is to encourage the body to reabsorb the fluid with gentle hands-on osteopathic treatment.  This removes any soft tissue restrictions to fluid flow which have developed, such as fibrosis or scar tissue, and allows the tissue to heal.   


This tissue healing is also enhanced by a structured exercise program supervised by an experienced exercise physiologist.  This can be undertaken once our breast specialists agree that a patient is sufficiently healed.

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