What Causes a Seroma After Back Surgery?

Accumulation of bodily fluid around the incision site sometimes causes a seroma to develop following a surgical procedure, explains Healthline. This occurs when the drainage tubes placed by the surgical team are not sufficient for removing excess fluid. More extensive surgical procedures, such as those that displace a significant amount of tissue, are more likely to result in a seroma.

Seromas generally develop approximately a week or two following surgery, according to Healthline. Specific surgical procedures have an increased risk of seroma-related complications, such as hernia repair, liposuction, body lifts, breast augmentation and mastectomy. Patients with a history of seromas are more likely to develop new ones after surgery.

Small seromas often disappear on their own, but more difficult cases require removal of bodily fluid via syringe, notes Healthline. They often resemble a cyst in appearance and feel sore when applying pressure. While clear discharge around the incision site is common in seromas, bloody or odorous discharge is a sign of infection. If the infection remains untreated, it sometimes abscesses, requiring additional medical care. A hardened, calcified knot around the incision site is another complication of a seroma.

Patients with a seroma who experience a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit should seek emergency care, warns Healthline. Rapidly increasing swelling, pain and redness are other signs necessitating emergency care, as are warm skin around the seroma and quickened heart rate.