Fluid Build Up

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on 7 August and underwent a full mastectomy [left hand side] on 22 August 2012. I expected to stay in hospital for 2-3 days. One of the drains was removed within a couple of days but the other kept on draining approximately 100ml a day, usually as soon as a new bottle was attached then nothing for the rest of the day. I’d stated that I wanted to remain in hospital until the drain was removed so didn’t come out until 30 August. At this point the drain was still filling to 100ml but as it had been in over a week a decision was taken to remove it. The breast cancer nurse came to see me yesterday and is coming back Monday. She pointed out that the tissue on my left breast is filling with fluid and the left hand side of my body seems to be swollen. She has told me that when the fluid gets to a certain level she can syringe it out. I was just wondering if anybody else had experienced this problem and if there was anything I could do to help the fluid disperse naturally? I’m doing my exercises four times a day and trying to keep as active as I can inbetween times. Any advice would be gratefully received

Hi. I had a bilateral mastectomy and ANC on the 30th July.I had 2 drains in- one for each side. They took one drain out on day 5 and the other out on day 7 because they said it had to come out after 1 week. like you mine was still draining a lot so obviously when they took it out I still had a lot of fluid but no where for it to drain into.Therefore I became swollen.I have had the fluid drained off twice now with the syringe, it doesn’t hurt at all because you are still numb. The first time they drained off 200 mls the second time 100 mls. They told me that eventually your body absorbs the fluid. its over a week since i was last drained(syringed)-I’m still swollen but it now seem solid and hard rather than fluidy so not sure what this is? like you i’ve been busy doing my exercises but having trouble with cording at the moment so got regular physio apointments.

Hi Shazzaboro,
Golly you’ve been through the mill, and a long stay in hospital. It sounds like you have what is called a ‘seroma’ which is a gathering of fluid that can occur after surgery. As it was explained to me, your body knows something has been taken away and sends fluid to try to fill the gap. If left alone it will eventually go away (so they told me) but they will often drain it a few times to see if it will go away.
At the hospital where I was treated, they use steroid injections if it does not resolve after about three drainings (or at least they did for mine, which was in my back as I had an immediate reconstruction using back muscle) - what my surgeon called a ‘magic injection’. After three times being drained of up to 700ml, it certainly was like magic - my back has been flat as teenager’s ever since (on that side anyway!!)
There are a few people who post on here now and then who have had seromas that persisted for months, but in the end I think everyone found they resolved.
Keep up the exercises as that will definitely aid your recovery but don’t overdo it. Hope the fluid disperses soon.
Take care

Revcat has said it all… this is Seroma… a lot of ladies who have had MX…me included have suffered from this. Mine was drained 4 times before it settled down. I found the exercises helped but as RC has said there is a steroid injection. I do not know anything about this as it did not apply to me. Hope it settles soon M

Thanks for the responses. Was beginning to think it was just me! Glad to hear that it doesn’t hurt when they drain it too At least the nurse is back tomorrow so can see what she says too. I’ve had operations in the past and this is the second time I’ve had fluid build up. Last time was was in February after I had my gall bladder out by open surgery. Had to have that drained too and the wound needed daily packing for two months. Dont fancy that again! Fingers crossed it won’t come to that.

Hi, I’m 4 weeks post op and had a drain for 9 days. I was at the hospital twice a week to have it drained by syringe each time it has been about 80ml. I have now been told to have it done once a week to let my body get used to dealing with it itself. I have done this once this week and only drained 60ml so it is getting less.

Thanks for all the responses, they have been very helpful at putting my mind at rest. Just been to the hospital today and they don’t seem too concerned at moment but will continue to monitor it. It feels weird when it moves - yuck! Also found out I need to have axillary lymph node clearance as they found cancer in 2 sentinel nodes, followed by chemotherapy. Not sure how I feel at moment but at least I know what happens next.

Hi, I had a skin saving mastectomy and temporary implant on 17 July and had massive seroma build up. Am really small - 32b - but when pregnant went up to a 42d (I know, outrageous…!!) so my breast expanded to that! Looked truly ridiculous and had to be drained three times via syringe and ultrasound, the most they took in one go was 600ml. Was not painful, just uncomfortable, but all of a sudden, it just stopped growing. Nothing I did made any difference, it’s just your body and how it reacts. Now it’s back to normal and has been for quite a few weeks. Does feel really weird when it moves, I agree! Your situation sounds a little bit like mine in that I had a first level clearance due to the fact they found a micro mastases (spelling awful sorry) in my sentinal node. I hardly dared hope my level would be clear but it was. Have just started chemo nine days ago, FEC, and all is okay so far. Good luck with everything, Lisa x