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Drains Vs Internal Sutures for Tummy Tuck?

I am planning a Tummy Tuck soon & the Dr I have chosen said he prefers to do internal sutures as opposed to drains. I have heard that might be more dangerous. What is the reality?

Doctor Answers (16)

Tummy tuck without drains


This is a rather new technique that is gaining more popularity. I have done it several times with good success. I wouldn't say that's it's more dangerous, it just might slightly increase the possibility of a seroma forming (fluid collection). The benefit of internal sutures is that no drains are necessary which is a great postoperative perk.

The downside is that it may increase the formation of seroma, but again, this is only slight. If a seroma does form, it is easily drained in the office without any difficulty or negative consequences. I usually discuss this with the patient preop and we both come to a decision. Good luck!

Dr. Singer

Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Drains vs. internal sutures in tummy tuck


"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The definition of tummy tuck varies widely, but in my O.R .it includes: muscle repair, aggressive suction, skin and fat resection,and umbilical reconstruction. I've used drains for 27 yrs. without problems.

In these abdominal and flank reconstructions--which may or may not be what you will have I do not use "quilting sutures" but use drains as the "ounce of..."

Barry H. Dolich, MD
Bronx Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

I stopped using internal (quilting) sutures for tummy tuck


A Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) requires a lifting and separation of the skin / subcutaneous fat from the underlying muscles.

After the muscles are brought back to the midline, the loose, excess lower tummy skin and fat are removed and the surgical incision is closed, we want the skin and fat to adhere back to the underlying muscles. Unfortunately, fluid collections (seromas) tend to form in that space.

As long as drains remove the fluid as soon as it forms, the skin adherence/healing goes on schedule. But, patients would wish there was ANOTHER way to prevent the use of drains. Many methods were tried; some less gentle than others.

The placement of internal quilting sutures was popularized by Drs. Pollock, father and son Dallas plastic surgeons. I HAVE used this techniques but found that it did not work better than drains. I therefore stopped using it. I think most plastic surgeons share my opinion.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

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Internal sutures (quilting) versus drains with tummy tuck (TT) abdominoplasty



These internal sutures (also called quilting sutures) have been recommended to minimize the potential for fluid collection between the fat and muscle. Traditionally in the past, these fluid collections were treated with drains. The thought with the sutures is that if you close the space, the fluid will not accumulate.

In reality, I have performed both techniques and still have fluid collections. Because the sutures take more time, I have abandoned this method and have returned to drains. I have designed a drain which forks (splits) into two (internally) and therefore I use 1 drain opening that drains two areas.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Use of drains and internal sutures for Tummy Tuck


This is a great question.

Personally, I am a believer of "tried and proven" techniques. Drains after tummy tuck surgery have been used for decades and are safe and effective. Seroma develops after tummy tuck surgery due to movement of the abdominal skin against the abdominal wall. The theory behind internal sutures is to keep the skin from moving. However, there is NO way the entire internal abdominal skin can be sutured. There will be pockets of skin, therefore, with some movement.

I suppose the only way to determine if internal sutures is as good as drains is to have one side of the patient with drains and the other side with internal sutures and then compare the results. Enough patients need to be in the study to determine is the difference is statistically significant. I personally do not perform internal sutures due to additional surgery time and lack of evidence it makes a huge difference.

Michael A. Jazayeri, MD
Santa Ana Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Personally, I do both drains and internal sutures for Tummy Tuck


As one of the other doctors mentioned, I do a combination of both quilting sutures and drains.I have been doing this combination for about 5 years. Since I starting doing quilting sutures I would say my drains stay in shorter (usually about 1 week) and I have reduced the occurrence of fluid collections postop. I would ask your doctor how often he sees fluid collections without drains. If he has good success with his technique you should be OK to proceed.

Robert B. Pollack, MD
La Jolla Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Tummy tuck drains or internal sutures



I personally do not use quilting sutures. The literature as it stands today seems to indicate that either drains or quilting sutures are adequate in minimizing fluid collections. The use of both is probably overkill and may add time to the operation that would increase risks that are based on longer anesthesia times. Good luck!

Kenneth R. Francis, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Tummy Tuck drains vs internal sutures


Most plastic surgeons place drains in the abdomen during a tummy tuck procedure. These drains help remove excess fluid/blood from the surgery and also help the soft tissue and skin to adhere to the abdominal wall (muscle). Internal sutures, also called progressive tension sutures or quilting sutures, can be used to help attach the soft tissue to the abdominal wall, thus minimizing any space and potential for fluid accumulation. Often times a combination of internal sutures and drains are used to further reduce the chances of any fluid build-up (called seroma).

There is no right or wrong answer as to which technique is performed.

Please discuss with your plastic surgeon his/her preference for drains and/or internal sutures during a tummy tuck procedure.

Best wishes,

Dr. Bruno

William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 134 reviews

Use both drains and internal sutures for tummy tuck.


1) It's not an either or situation. The point is to avoid a seroma (collection of liquid under the skin) after a tummy tuck.
2) We use both internal quilting sutures and drains. They both help with no down side. Many surgeons do not use internal sutures, but I personally think drains must be used.
3) A minimal undermining (minimal skin lifting) tummy tuck technique also prevents seromas.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Tummy Tuck and Drains


Drains are the standard of care after abdominoplasty. After elevating such a large area and performing a large surgery, the body produces fluid which needs to be drained. Some have suggested that internal sutures help close the space and make the drains unnecessary. However, fluid can still accumulate which would need to be drained. Having drains for a few days to a week after surgery is a much better alternative than having to undergo a second procedure to remove fluid which collected in the absence of drains. Good luck with your surgery.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.