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Seroma: Care Instructions


After a surgery, fluid can collect under the skin near the cut the doctor made (incision). This soft, puffy area is called a seroma. It can be tender to touch. The incision may even have opened up.

Some seromas get better on their own. But when there is a lot of fluid under the skin, a seroma is drained to help the area heal.

If your incision has opened up, it may either be packed with gauze or left open to heal. To prevent infection, make sure to keep the area clean and to take all medicines as prescribed.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions for seroma care. If you have a drain tube, your doctor will tell you how to take care of it.
  • Look at the incision every day. Keep the area clean and dry.
  • Do not bathe unless you can keep the incision dry. Start with sponge baths. Ask your doctor when it is safe to shower.
  • Do not scrub or rub the incision. And don't wear clothing that rubs it.
  • Leave any tape strips (such as Steri-Strips) on your incision. They will fall off on their own, or your doctor may tell you when to take them off.
  • Do not put lotion or powder on incisions.
  • Keep your incision out of direct sunlight.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Your doctor may give you specific instructions on when you can do your normal activities again, such as driving and going back to work.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision or a yellow or green discharge that is increasing.
    • A fever.
  • You bleed through a bandage.
  • The incision opens up.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • The incision is not healing as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.