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Other Possible Concerns After Surgery

What is a seroma?

  • After your drain is removed, a pouch of body fluid may collect in the surgical area. This is called a "seroma."
  • The pouch of fluid is caused by continued drainage into the surgical site.
  • A seroma is common and is not an emergency.
  • Seromas happen a few weeks after surgery and may take several weeks to disappear.
  • If you think you have developed a seroma and it is large and uncomfortable, or you are concerned, call the Melanoma Site Nursing Team at 416-480-5000.

What is a lymphedema?

  • Lymphedema is swelling caused by lymphatic fluid that collects in your leg.
  • Lymphedema is different than a seroma or the swelling that might happen right after surgery.
  • Lymphedema can develop weeks, months, or years after your surgery.
  • Lymphedema can be managed but should be reported to the Melanoma Site Nursing Team

What are the early signs of lymphedema?

  • Feelings of heaviness, aching or tingling
  • Feelings of tightness in clothing, jewelry, watches
  • A feeling of heat
  • Swelling

What can I do to prevent lymphedema?

It is not known why some people with the same risk factors develop lymphedema while others do not. To help lower the risks of developing lymphedema:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity is a major risk factor.
  • Exercise regularly and follow the instructions from the physical and occupational therapists.
  • Avoid infections in the leg where the surgery occurred. Apply antibiotic cream to cuts, scratches and insect bites.
  • Keep your feet clean.
  • Once the incision is healed, use a moisturizer regularly on your leg and foot.
  • Report any prolonged swelling, or changes in sensation, colour, temperature or skin condition to the Melanoma Nursing Team or your physician.

Will removing my lymph nodes affect my body's ability to fight off infection?

  • You can be at higher risks of infection in the leg that had the groin dissection.
  • If you notice redness and pain around a cut, you should contact a doctor to see if you need antibiotic pills.
  • Immunizations (vaccinations) are safe after your surgery.

How do I learn more about lymphedema?

  • There is a weekly lymphedema information class for patients and families.
  • The class is held every Thursday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and is located at the PEARL (Patient Education and Research Learning centre) in the Odette Cancer Centre on the 1st floor beside the main Reception Desk.
  • Please call 416-480-4534 for more information about the class and to register.
  • If you develop symptoms of lymphedema, your doctor can refer you to Sunnybrook's lymphedema clinic for an assessment.

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