Surgical Services

Seroma guide

This page has been produced to provide you with information about seromas.

It aims to answer some of the questions often asked by patients and explains:

  • what a seroma is
  • what to do if you think you have a seroma
  • who you can contact for help or advice.

What is a seroma?Show [+]Hide [-]

A seroma is a collection of blood stained fluid which can collect under the wound or in the axilla (armpit) after a breast operation, or when lymph nodes have been removed from the axilla.

The fluid seeps from small blood and lymph vessels that are deliberately cut during the operation to remove the breast tissue or lymph nodes.

Once these small vessels start to heal no further fluid collects and the seroma will gradually be absorbed by the body.

Approximately one in three patients who have had a breast operation will develop a seroma, even if surgical drains have been used. It may take several weeks after an operation for the seroma to disappear completely.

What do I do if I think I have a seroma?Show [+]Hide [-]

Small seromas will usually disappear within one month without any treatment.

If the seroma is large and causing problems with discomfort or restricting your arm movement then the fluid can be drained using a fine needle. Having a seroma drained is usually painless as the area around the wound is likely to be still numb.

Seromas do not always need to be drained. If they do need to be drained then this does not need to be done as an emergency. Repeated drainage can encourage the seroma to refill and as the procedure carries a small risk of infection it should not be done unless the seroma is causing problems. If the seroma does need to be drained then we can arrange an appointment for you to come to a clinic to get this done.

Seroma clinics are held in the RVI Breast Unit on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

Who can I contact for help or advice?

If you think you have a seroma that is causing you problems then please contact the Breast Care Nurses or their Secretary: 

  • between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday
  • tel: 0191 282 0207

Outside of these hours you can contact:

  • nurses on Ward 44, RVI
  • tel: 0191 282 6044 

Leaflet to download

You can download the information on this page as a pdf leaflet.pdf

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