Swelling After Cosmetic Surgery

Swelling will always occur after cosmetic surgery. Swelling is a normal part of the healing process. It takes time and it will take at least six months to see the final result. It is tiresome but true; however sometimes your swelling could be abnormal, here are the ways you can tell.

The three common causes of abnormal swelling after cosmetic surgery are

  1. Seroma (Most Common) – A fluid collection
  2. Hematoma (Rare) – A blood collection
  3. Infection (Uncommon) – Ranges from minor to severe

All three problems need prompt treatment. You may ask, when should you call your plastic surgeon if you are worried that your swelling is abnormal? I tell my patients, “Don’t try to figure it out. Just call me!” But more information always helps. So here’s what to look for.

  1. Seroma is a firm bulge visible seen through the surgical swelling. It may have an audible ‘slosh’, looks bruised and is usually seen the first week after surgery.

Treatment– It is usually simple – drawing out the fluid 3 – 4 times over the span of a few weeks. Untreated, a seroma doesn’t go away and will eventually need to be removed surgically.

  1. Hematoma is usually seen soon after surgery but can occur suddenly weeks later. Steady or sudden swelling, tight skin, often painful. Bruising is usually severe.

Treatment– Complete prompt surgical drainage is essential – otherwise the hematoma ruins your result.

  1. Infection usually noted two weeks after surgery. The early sign – instead of feeling better with less swelling two weeks after surgery, you feel worse and swell more.

Treatment – Call immediately if you experience a fever, pain, chills and redness don’t wait for them to develop and become more severe.

Your questions after surgery are never foolish. It is perfectly fine to call about something that proves insignificant. It means all is well. But it makes no sense to have a problem and delay calling for days because if you have a problem, the longer you wait, the harder it is to treat.