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Introduction. Seroma formation is one of the most frequently encountered complications following mastectomy. It may cause significant morbidity, including delayed wound healing, infection and frequent clinic attendance for seroma aspiration. Objective. To evaluate the effect of surgical quilting after mastectomy in the prevention of postoperative seroma and to investigate which factors influence seroma formation. Methods. This was a single-centre prospective cohort study over a 1-year period. All patients who had a mastectomy operation during this period were included in this study. Group 1 patients (quilting) had mastectomy flaps sutured to pectoral muscle using interrupted absorbable sutures. Seroma requiring aspiration, number of aspirations and volume aspirated were recorded postoperatively. Results. During the study period, 168 patients were recruited, with 54 patients in group 1 (quilting) and 114 patients in group 2 (nonquilting). The proportion of patients who developed seroma requiring aspiration was 69% (n=79) in the non-quilting group and 29% (n=15) in the quilting group (p<0.001). Additionally, the total volume of seroma drained was 427 mL (standard error (SE)=69) in the nonquilting group and 63 mL (SE=21) in the quilting group (p=0.0008). The total number of seroma aspirations was 152 in the non-quilting group compared with 23 in the quilting group (p=0.0001). Seroma was more common in smokers (p=0.003) and was not decreased by the presence of drains. Conclusion. Quilting of the mastectomy flaps significantly reduces seroma formation. Both total volume of seroma aspirated and number of aspirations are significantly reduced using this technique. We would therefore recommend quilting of mastectomy flaps to reduce the incidence of postoperative seromas and morbidity.

Original publication




Journal article


South African Journal of Surgery

Publication Date





50 - 54