DOI: 10.1093/sexmed/qfad054 ISSN: 2050-1161

Delayed, dramatic breast swelling in a transgender woman: a case report

Kathryn Szymanski, Naikhoba Munabi, Maurice Garcia, Edward Ray
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Urology
  • Dermatology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Psychiatry and Mental health



As the number of gender-affirming procedures performed in the United States increases, physicians caring for gender-nonconforming patients, regardless of practice location and focus, will likely encounter transgender women with breast implants. Increasingly, transgender women are seeking breast feminization. However, this population is less consistently receiving surveillance and routine breast care than cisgender women.


This report aims to add to the growing body of knowledge addressing breast augmentation complications in transgender women and to highlight disparities in healthcare.


A case of breast implant–associated seroma at our institution was analyzed through chart review. A literature review was conducted using PubMed to gather all articles discussing breast implant–associated fluid collections in transgender patients. Prior to publication of this report, a Waiver of Consent was granted by the E.R.’s Institutional Review Board for the study under which this article was prepared.


Our patient was an African American transgender woman presenting initially at age 60 with significant asymmetry due to dramatic swelling of her left breast. The patient underwent bilateral breast augmentation outside of the United States 2 decades prior. The patient noted a gradual painless increase in her left breast size starting 3 years prior. She admitted that she was hesitant to seek a second opinion after being treated dismissively by another surgeon. Subsequent management included mammography and mirrored recommendations for late breast implant–associated seromas in cisgender patients: ultrasound, aspiration for cytology and culture, and removal of the implant and capsule.


The fluid collection in our patient was determined to be a chronic hematoma and was managed surgically. Though this patient eventually achieved a good outcome, treatment was delayed due to barriers she faced as a transgender woman.

Clinical Implications

Literature demonstrates that recommended management of late-onset breast-implant-associated seroma does not differ based on gender identity; however, transgender and GNC adults are more likely to receive less thorough care than cisgender women. Any patients undergoing breast augmentation with implants should be routinely evaluated for late complications, including seromas, which require prompt attention and methodical evaluation due to their potentially malignant nature.

Strengths and Limitations

This article is limited in that it is a single report of breast seroma. It is strengthened by a PubMed review gathering all articles discussing breast-implant-associated fluid collections in transgender patients.


We propose better education of physicians on how to care for transgender and gender-diverse patients should help mitigate the neglect and late presentation of such medical conditions in this vulnerable and marginalized population.

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