Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 167, Issue 2, pp 409–416 | Cite as

A systematic review of flap fixation techniques in reducing seroma formation and its sequelae after mastectomy

  • J. van Bastelaar
  • L. van Roozendaal
  • R. Granzier
  • G. Beets
  • Y. Vissers



Seroma formation is a common complication after mastectomy. This review aims to elucidate which surgical techniques are most effective in reducing the dead space and therefore seroma formation in patients undergoing mastectomy.


A literature search was performed to identify clinical studies comparing any form of flap fixation to conventional closure technique in patients undergoing mastectomy with or without axillary clearance. Studies were eligible for inclusion if outcome was described in terms of seroma formation and/or complications of seroma formation. Studies on animal research or breast reconstruction with tissue expanders or flap harvesting (latissimus dorsi) were excluded.


A total of nine articles were eligible for inclusion. Five were retrospective studies and four were prospective. Retrospective and prospective studies have demonstrated the higher incidence of seroma formation in patients not undergoing mechanical flap fixation. The incidence of seroma-related complications in these studies vary. Four out of the nine studies demonstrate that patients undergoing flap fixation, need significantly fewer seroma aspirations. There are very few studies on the use of tissue glues preventing seroma formation.


The scientific body of evidence favoring flap fixation after mastectomy is convincing. Mechanical flap fixation seems to reduce seroma formation and seroma aspiration after mastectomy. There are, however, no well-powered randomized controlled trials evaluating all aspects of seroma formation and its sequelae. Further research should elucidate whether flap fixation using sutures or tissue glue is superior.


Mastectomy Seroma formation Seroma aspiration Flap fixation 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest and that no funding was involved.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryZuyderland Medical CenterSittard-GeleenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryNetherlands Cancer InstituteAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.GROW School for Oncology and Developmental BiologyUniversity of MaastrichtMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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