Seroma after surgery and trouble sleeping, how long?

Hi ladies,

I’m two week past mastectomy with immediate LD reconstruction, had back drain removed 7 days after surgery. I’m feeling pretty well now, except for discomfort from seroma build up on my back. Not that I didn’t expected it! The nurse I’m seeing warned me about it but said that the surgeon doesn’t like it to get drained as it will increase a risk of infection. I wonder if anyone can advise me or share own experiences on how long it will take for a body to re-absorb it. I was planning to go back to work early March, but with this banana stuck under my skin don’t feel like is going to happened.

Also I find it difficult to sleep all the time on the back (feel quite stiff in the morning) and really miss sleeping on the side or my tummy, but I can’t do it now – too uncomfortable and scared that implant may move. I wonder how long did it take you after the operation before you could return to normal sleeping position?

Hi, I’m 4 weeks after my op. I think I started sleeping on my side after about 2 weeks. Bliss!! I keep my bra on and stick a pillow under the new boob for support. It’s still uncomfortanvle when I try to turn onto the side of the reconstructed breast though.

I have had the seroma on my back (LD like you) drained twice now, a week ago and today, but there was less of it this time. Mine is more like a hot water bottle than a banana.

Hi - after my total axillary resection I had a huge seroma in my back - the surgeon did tell me that he had to be “brutal” in getting all the lymph nodes out, but didn’t tell me about a seroma.
My now retired bc nurse was my saviour - rang her and she got me an appt that day in clinic, where she did an aspiration - absolute, utter relief. I went back every 2-3 days to get it drained for some 3-4 weeks (one and a half hour’s journey each way, by car and ferry, in the winter, with Force 9 gales, so not a happy bunny). Either she or my surgeon did all but one of the aspirations, but I had a rather difficult experience one time. The bc nurse was away on a course, surgeon in theatre, and I got two lovely young housemen that had treated me in hospital. It was a bit of a pantomime…I was sat there in absolute agony, and one of them said to the other: “Have you ever done this before, because I haven’t?” - the other replied: “No, but I have watched Mr… do it, and we have to be careful not to puncture the lung”. Well, I nearly got up off the bed and hot footed it, but was in so much pain, thought, what will be, will. Luckily, they did it well, because I don’t know what I would have done otherwise.

I am not in a position to comment about your surgeon’s advice, but for me, there was no option but to have it drained, and I didn’t get any infections, as I did with the WLE and axillary removal. I was on methotrexate chemo for Crohn’s at the time, so was susceptible to infections, so guess there was an angel sitting on my shoulders.

Take care and hope all goes well. We are all different in our responses to surgeries and infections and guess we have to go with our own instincts.

Hi Foxy - if you are who I think you are from another site well done for getting through the op!! (my name is slightly different on here too!!)- sounds like you had a bit of a nightmare in hospital but glad you are home and on the mend. I have been away for half term so only just catching up on posts.

Once my back drain was removed my back quickley swelled up and they wouldn’t drain mine either due to risk of infection (must be something to do with the drs in our area!) so took a while for my body to absorb the fluid. Every time I lay down I was swishing around - it does feel horrible but hang in there after a while it will start to subside. I found the more I did the worse the swelling got - so rest was quite good. I would say the first 4 weeks after the op are awkward but then I did feel my body start to get back to normal. It is a major op and they have done loads of routing around so there will be swelling etc to go down as well. I have read you other posts that right now it is not looking how you want it to - my advice is give your body a little time it is still early days. It isn’t pretty at first and I felt lumpy and bumpy but the main thing to concentrate on at the moment is feeling well and making sure the impant and flap take without infection. I found wearing quite tight t-shirts made the back feel better than loose clothing.

I also sleep on my front/side and hated not being able to just roll over in bed - Mr Desai said to sleep on my back for first 4 weeks anyway to to stop any damage to recon - and to wear a support bra in bed for 3 months!!!. I found the bra thing too hard so used the secret support tops from m&s - much comfier.

Not sure about work by begining of March? Do you have to go back then? I would think at least 8 weeks to recover -your bodyhas been through loads and I didn’t realise at the time but I was actually knackered and anaemic from the blood I had lost in surgery. I took 3 months off!! Next one planned for 14 March and will be taking anotehr 3 months off then.

Take care and speak soon

Sarah x x x

i am 11 weeks post op. i had same op as you on 5th DEC. i couldn’t believe the shape when i woke up it was perfect although dressings on. then it began to swell and i looked like lopsided Jordan… i had seroma drained twice wouldn’t do it anymore as don’t like to risk infection. both times was a couple of weeks apart. i still have a bit but i have to let body absorb and it is slowly. it was like a hot water bottle but once i got in a position it was OK. i was told the more you do it does build up again so i said i wont do anything and they said no you must or you will end up with stiff shoulder and that’s worse to treat. i did happy medium. i am lucky i haven’t had to work. i am 49 my children grown up and all three of them have got their own houses so i did become lazy…if i had had more to do i think i would have got better quicker but i had no motive. i still have a lovely shape etc no dents or lumps and bumps like people on here have said. i have had asda full support bras on day and night they are gt lacy and in all colours and cost between 4 and 7 pounds. i must admit i went up a size for comfort as tight across back. i actually plucked up courage to sleep on side last night for a change new boob in air and it was OK so i could have done it earlier. i am just a scaredy cat. i do find hoovering a pain but i have the latest Dyson and its so damn heavy. scrubbing the kitchen floor takes an hour but is easier than doing the mopping action. driving was OK but i found reversing a problem so i avoided parking places like that. you just adjust a bit more. i have done the exercises not as often as they said. imust say overall i am very happy with how it all went but i still have pain or discomfort down my side not sure if anyone else has but i don’t like to moan.
have a good day
wet and miserable here in bedford

Hi Foxy,

Thought I’d join in the thread, I had bilateral recon last May using the ld method, being as it was both sides I found it really difficult to sleep, in fact I remember watching Troy on my portable dvd player in hospital at 4 am. I too had build up of fluid on my back both sides but my surgeon was quite happy to drain it off which he did twice. Now 9 months on and I feel great, I was able to drive after about 4 weeks only be it short distances and getting better nights sleep after about 6 weeks. I am now due to go in for my nipple recon and they are also going to tidy up under each arm as I have quite alot of excess skin (dog ears) on Tuesday 26th Feb as a day patient. My advice to you would be make sure you don’t overdo things but do the exercises they give you as I did and they really helped with my arm movement. Be patient and I’m sure you’ll start to feel better in time.

Take care


Mast, recon with back flap 6 weeks post op.

I still have seroma and have had it drained twice a week until this week when the fluid dropped down by half so I have started my chemo yesterday
Cant sleep on my sides yet but would love too but do have a pillow under my side and boob. Also I find bras irratating at the moment with the back filling up hopefully it will stop shortly.


Hi Foxychick, me again

I had seroma for a while and my surgeon was happy to drain it if it became uncomfortable, and I had it done twice 8 days after leaving hospital and then again 11 days later. They only took off 150mls the second time (it felt like a lot more!) so put up with it after that and it did go away.

I asked about sleeping positions too when I had the dressings off (two weeks postop.) as originally had to be on my back to help it knit, my surgeon was happy for me to sleep in any position I was comfortable in. I could not sleep on the recon. side for some while but was happier on my left side anyway. I wore a bra day and night for for about 10 weeks, but I have stopped wearing one at night now.

Your back will feel stiff for a while, but keep doing ths exercises, bending and twisting at the waist will help a lot. Don’t overdo it, the more active you are, the more seroma will form, so it’s not easy to get a balance.

I agree that you should try to have a bit more time to recouperate after such a long op. 8 weeks seems a good choice. I took 8 weeks after hysterectomy some years ago. Having just retired, I did not have to worry about that, it just messed up my retirement plans. this was certainly not on the to do list!

best wishes

Girls, thank you all for your replies!!!

Looks like this seroma thing is going to be on my back for a while. :frowning: It’s changed its shape again – it looks like an avocado now! :slight_smile:

Cryst, Julie, I am shocked that yours was a size of hot water bottle – that seems huge! Glad that is getting smaller now, hopefully it will disappear soon!

Liz, I guess mine is not that big as I only had SNB, rather than full node clearance. Very impressed with your efforts to see the nurse! I was going twice weekly to see my nurse on 1 hr 30 min journey each way and felt like a hero, but it was nothing like force 9 gales! :open_mouth:

Sarah, you guess me right! I moved here while the other forum is going through technical changes! My nurse has advised me to wear tight t-shirts too, but I find them suffocating to wear above my bra.

Karen, I wasn’t given to do any exercise at all. My surgeon inspected the arm and checked the range of movements and than said I don’t need any. Being suspicious type I insisted on some advice and he told me to walk my arm up the wall. I also called my nurse and she send me BCC exercise sheet. Needles to say that I don’t stick to it religiously, but I use my right arm as normal and even hold a full kettle when I forget. Good luck with the nipple recon!

Sharon, I too find bra irritating and keep scratching my skin under the armpit, it will look scabby soon! Good luck with chemo!

Abismum, thanks for your advice, I will try to do some gentle exercise. I hope you managed to recover your retirement plans

I am not in a rush to get back to work, but don’t want to stay at home for too long – I have no kids to look after and all my friends are working full time. And unfortunately I don’t drive on my own yet, I only passed the test two months ago (two days after being diagnosed!) and didn’t have a chance to get use to driving, so have to rely on public transport. I’m slowly getting bored. Both my surgeons said that I can come back to work after 4 weeks, providing there are no complications and pathology result are good, but I don’t fancy do it with the seroma on my back. I would like to come back to work once I’m fit to sit behind a desk all day, but I am worrying about commuting in peak-times to central London. People in the public transport are very pushy!

Hi again

If your seroma is only the size of an avocado you are very lucky, mine was more like a hotwater bottle like Julie’s. It seems to be a lot worse for those that have axilliary clearance, I have a friend who had mx with ax. clearance early in January and she is still getting fluid drawn off.

You too have to travel a long way to the hospital, I thought it was only those in little villages in the country! I am doing a 90 mile round trip daily for rads. (25 sessions too) which is a bind for a few seconds zapping, but worth it for peace of mind, it was my choice to have it.

Good luck with your results, I’ll be thinking of you, keep us up to date.