Author: OncoLink Team
Last Reviewed: July 28, 2022

What is it?

A seroma is an accumulation of serous fluid that occurs after surgery. Seromas usually develop between 7 – 10 days after the surgery. They can happen with any surgery but more often with breast surgeries such as mastectomy, lumpectomy, and breast reconstruction. A seroma can impair wound healing, cause discomfort, increase the risk of infection, and delay further treatment. There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of getting a seroma. These factors are:

  • Type of surgery and surgical technique.
  • Amount of drainage from the area after the surgery.
  • Tumor size.
  • Body mass index.
  • Lymph node removal.

How is a seroma managed?

During some surgeries, a drain may be placed to collect fluid from the surgical site and will be removed at a later time. No techniques have been found to always prevent a seroma from happening.

The fluid in a seroma can be removed by inserting a very fine needle and removing the fluid. This is called fine-needle aspiration and may need to be performed to  relieve the seroma. Often, seromas will go away without treatment.

When should you call your team?

If you notice a swollen area near the site of recent surgery or have any new pain contact your provider. 

Boostrom S, Throckmorton A, Boughey J, Holifield A, Zakaria S, Hoskin T, Degnum A. Incidence of clinically significant seroma after breast and axillary surgery. Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2008:208(1)148-150.

Pogson CJ, Adwani A, Ebbs SR. Seroma Formation following breast cancer surgery. European Journal of Surgical Oncology. 2003:(29)711-717.

NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. Found at:

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