Hematoma following a surgery, also called postoperative hematoma is a localized gathering of blood at the site of the surgery. Hematoma is essentially a pool of blood under the skin in an organ or tissues of the body.
Hematoma is a complication that can often occur after surgery, and is most common after a face lift. When veins, capillaries or arteries burst, blood oozes from the vessels and collects in the tissues surrounding it, which results in a pool of blood. A clot may form, which can harden and form lumps. The lumps are sacs of blood that prevent the bleeding from spreading and keep blood flow to a minimum.
Hematoma can develop hours or even days after a surgery, because of the damage that surrounds the blood vessels during an operation, or because of poor patient aftercare. Some cases in which hematoma occurs include an episiotomy, which is a vaginal incision that occurs during the delivery of a child, a caesarean, gallbladder removal, abdominoplasty (which tightens stomach skin), facelift, dental surgery or a breast augmentation.
Post-Surgery Hematoma Treatments
Heat and Cold Treatment: Mild cases of hematoma are often reabsorbed, and additional surgery is not needed. Hot and cold treatments can effectively treat mild hematoma. Ice or cold packs are utilized for vasoconstriction, as this lowers blood flow and makes the vessels constrict. Applying an ice pack reduces and alleviates bleeding and swelling. The ice packs should be applied for two days, or until the swelling is gone.
A hot towel treatment is done next, in which a warm towel is placed on the hematoma site. Heat accelerates the healing process by causing the clot to reabsorb and stopping internal bleeding. This should be followed with an ice pack, and the heat and cold packs should be alternated until all inflammation and discoloration is gone. Topical analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications can also reduce pain and swelling. Massaging is also beneficial.
Drainage Method: Sometimes, hematoma won’t go away with heat and cold treatments alone. When this is the case, a physician will surgically remove the blood. A sterile needle is used to drain the blood from the body, which is a process called aspiration. Hyaluronidase, which is an enzyme, is sometime injected into the body to accelerate blood re-absorption.
Surgical Method: Severe hematoma cases require surgical attention, as they cause infection and tissue scarring if left untreated. An additional operation will be scheduled by the physician for hematoma removal. The wound is re-opened during the surgery, and the clot is removed by way of saline irrigation. The doctor will identify the blood vessel causing hematoma and the vessel will be clamped. The wound is stitched up again. The patient will have to be extremely careful post-surgery to prevent hematoma from occurring again.