Tummy Tuck Drainage: What Do I Need to Know?

Tummy Tuck Drainage: What Do I Need to Know?

Few plastic surgery procedures can create as dramatic a physical transformation as a tummy tuck. In Columbia, MO, tummy tucks are one of the most popular procedures I perform because the patients are so thrilled with the results. Even so, women and men considering tummy tuck surgery may be worried about the surgical drains often inserted during the procedure.

Not all tummy tuck patients need drains, but in many cases small tubes placed through incisions are required to help avoid fluid from building up under the skin’s surface. This fluid buildup, called a seroma, can cause infection if not allowed to drain properly.

In some cases, a board-certified plastic surgeon may use suturing techniques that reduce the risk of excess fluid collection without using drains, but that’s not always possible. That’s why it’s a good idea to understand more about drains and learn what to expect during recovery. Most patients realize that even though drains may be a small nuisance, the results of a tummy tuck are well worth it.

Facts About Drains

A surgical drain is essentially a tube with a collection bulb attached to one end. Drains inserted as part of your tummy tuck procedure typically stay in for at least a week, but it can be up to 2 weeks if excess fluid is still draining.

Are drains painful?

Some patients may experience a bit of discomfort from the drains. Patients feeling discomfort should contact their surgeon to determine whether there could be any underlying issues responsible.

Do drains require maintenance?

Yes, patients need to clean their drains 2 to 3 times a day during their recovery. I provide my patients with detailed instructions to follow. If patients don’t clear the drains, it’s possible for clots to form in the tubing and block fluid drainage.

Can patients shower with drains?

Most surgeons recommend not showering for at least a day after the surgery. Bathing can be a bit of a challenge, and you may want to have a sponge bath during the first few days. Once you do take a shower, it’s important to avoid disturbing the drains. The help of a spouse or partner is very useful.

See for yourself the dramatic results of tummy tuck surgery enjoyed by my patients in our before-and-after photo gallery. You can also get all your questions about surgical drains and tummy tuck surgery answered by contacting us using the online form to request a consultation. Or call us at (573) 443-5500 to schedule an appointment.

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John J. Seaberg, MD, FACS