HematomaBruising is one of the most common side effects of cosmetic surgery. In most cases, a bruise will heal in a week or two and require no more treatment than ice and standard over-the-counter painkillers. However, hematomas are a condition similar to bruising that may be much more dangerous and require immediate attention. In fact, it may require additional care to correct the problem. Find out how to tell the difference between a bruise and a hematoma, what may increase your risk for hematomas, and what should be done to reduce your chance of getting a hematoma.

What's the Difference between a Bruise and a Hematoma?

A bruise develops as the result of any blunt contact injury between an object and the skin. This damages tissue and capillaries, causing blood to leak outside of the vessels and under the skin. While most bruises are not serious, a severe bruise may lead to hemorrhaging, in which the blood will pool and start to clot under the skin. The easiest way to tell the difference between a bruise and a hematoma is that the latter will actually feel hard to the touch. If this is the case for you, contact your doctor immediately to schedule a follow-up consultation.

Risk Factors for Hematomas

Hematomas are most likely to form following a cosmetic surgical procedure involving the face or neck. They will usually occur within 24 hours following surgery, but may also not appear until later. Men are more likely to develop hematomas than women. Other risk factors include:

  • Hypertension, or high blood pressure
  • Blood thinners, including herbal medications, ibuprofen, aspirin, or other similar medications
  • Smoking
  • Nausea or vomiting following surgery, which can put pressure on the incision site

How Can I Reduce My Chances of Developing a Hematoma?

The best advice is to strictly follow your after-care instructions. Small hematomas can be treated at home by alternating hot and cold compresses. Some other tips to reduce your chances of developing a hematoma include:

  • Wear the compressive dressing and elastic strap provided by your doctor
  • Take Arnica montana tablets before and after surgery to reduce bruising
  • Take your medication as directed and rest to prevent nausea and vomiting
  • Avoid smoking before and after surgery
  • Avoid blood thinners, both before and after surgery
  • Avoid strenuous movement or lifting immediately following surgery

If you have developed a hematoma, call your doctor right away. You may need to come in to have excess fluid and blood drained from the hematoma. The sooner you call, the lower the risk of severe complications. If a hematoma is left untreated, it can lead to scarring, infections, or even necrosis (tissue death).

Although severe complications following cosmetic surgery are rare, it is important for patients to be aware of the possibility so they take precautions before and after surgery. If you are uncertain if you have developed a bruise or an actual hematoma, contact our office to schedule a consultation right away.