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Ask Dr. D. Love Your Own Question
Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 18527
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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Hello I have a new scar under my arm, Its been about four weeks

Customer Question

Hello I have a new scar under my arm, Its been about four weeks since my surgery. I have noticed near the end of my scar a small red sore bump near end of incision. Today it had bursted and there's been discharge. I am a bit worried. What could it be?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for using JustAnswer. I will be glad to assist you today.
It will help if you could provide some further information:
What surgery was done?
Could you describe the discharge?
Are you having any other symptoms, such as pain or tenderness?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The surgery was a breast augmentation from the under arm
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 4 years ago.
Could you describe the discharge?
Are you having any other symptoms, such as pain or tenderness?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
A bit of pain from the side of my arm from the nerves
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 4 years ago.
Could you describe the discharge?
Is there any pain or tenderness at the site of the drainage?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Not so much pain in that area but the spot before it bursted was a tiny bit painful
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 4 years ago.
Could you describe the discharge?
Is it clear fluid?
Is there any colour to the discharge?
Is it white or purulent?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The discharge was a dark red color almost brown
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Answer came too late.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information. I'm sorry for the length of time, but it takes some time to type a complete answer.

There are several issues to consider when there is a bump that bursts and drains a discharge.

The most worrisome issue is whether there is an infection. It would be more worrisome for an infection is there is a purulent drainage and if there is persistent pain and tenderness after the bump bursts and drains. It is not as worrisome that there is some pain before it bursts, as any of the possible causes can cause pain when the fluid is under pressure. But if there is an infection, there would usually be pain that persists even after the fluid is no longer under pressure, so that fact that the pain was eased with release of the pressure is a good sign.

Drainage of fluid that is dark red / almost brown is more typical of a small collection of blood in the wound, called a haematoma. As the blood sits for a period of time, it will turn darker in colour. It is also possible to bleed into other causes of bumps, but if the blood is diluted by other fluid, it is usually not as dark a red or brown colour.

The other common cause of a bump in a wound is a seroma. A seroma consists of clear fluid that collects because of damage to the local tissue that allows for serum (blood filtered of the cellular component) to accumulate.

If there is less concern about an infection, it is OK to manage the issue conservatively initially. If there is any purulent drainage or persistent symptoms worrisome for infection, then it would be better to be seen for examination and consideration of antibiotics. Otherwise, it is OK to apply warm compresses and keep the area clean. However, if the fluid re-accumulates, particularly if there is a large collection of fluid, then it also would be appropriate to be seen, as it may require drainage to promote healing.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
my discharge is a light yellow color now. What could this mean?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 4 years ago.
If it is clear fluid with a light yellow color, that is generally a sign of blood that is mostly filtered, such as would be seen in a seroma. However, if it is thick, yellow fluid, that is more concerning for being a purulent drainage. The former is not worrisome for infection and the conservative management noted above would be fine. But the latter would be worrisome for infection, and you should see your doctor for an evaluation and consideration of whether to use antibiotics.