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Liposuction helps prevent seroma after tummy tuck

Daytona Beach, Fla. — Plastic surgeons can help abdominoplasty patients avoid postoperative seromas by using a technique that incorporates liposuction, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

The new technique helps prevent formation of seromas — a common problem after abdominoplasty — without the need for placing a drain after the procedure. The study appears in the October issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Developed by Daytona Beach plastic surgeon Carl W. Lentz III, M.D., and colleagues, the technique involves use of an extended incision that allows surgeons to use gentle liposuction to remove fat under the skin. The incision is then snugly closed using progressive tension sutures, which minimizes “dead space” underneath, where fluid can collect. This approach avoids damage to the blood and lymph vessels while improving blood flow to the abdominal skin above the incision, the study found.

Dr. Lentz and colleagues used the technique in 113 abdominoplasty patients over a six-year period. Ten patients — or 8.8 percent — developed postsurgical seromas, most of them small and requiring simple treatment at the surgeon’s office. Four patients had larger seromas requiring a drain. Other problems included hematomas (three patients) and a few cases of infection, and other generally minor complications.

Previous studies have reported widely varying rates of seroma after abdominoplasty, from 1 to 50 percent.

“Rates of seroma formation in this study are similar (to) if not better than those reported in the literature, and the lack of drains decreases sources of infection and irritation to the patient,” the authors wrote.

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