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How Long Can a Person Expect to Have Drains After Having a Mini Tummy Tuck?

Doctor Answers 15

Drains and Tummy Tucks

Thank you for your post. Whenever there is a potential space in your body, your body tends to fill that space with serous fluid (the yellow type of fluid that also comes out of a 'weeping wound'. This is similar to when you get a blister: the layers of skin separate and fluid is deposited in to the space. In a tummy tuck, the space is in between the skin/fat layer and the muscle layer. Most surgeons will place a drain to remove this fluid while your body is secreting it until the fat layer grows back together with the muscle layer. At that point, no more fluid is secreted into the area, because there is no more space for fluid. The length of time that this takes varies from patient to patient. Some patients heal much faster, thus the layers seal together much faster. Also, the more twisting motion you have in your belly area, the slower the two layers grow back together because they are moving in relation to each other. The fluid coming through the drain can be initially dark red, and eventually clears to pink then yellow. This is because it takes just a little bit of blood to make the fluid dark red. Also, initially, there can be a large amount of fluid (few hundred cc's in the first day is not out of the range of normal) and this should slow down substantially over next few days. Once the fluid slows down to the amount that your surgeon is comfortable with (usually 25-50 cc in 24 hours) then they will be pulled. There is minimal discomfort in pulling the drain in most patients.
More recently, 'drain free' surgery has become more popular. Fat layer is sutured down to the muscle layer starting at the ribs and progressively down to the lower incision. This makes the space for the fluid to collect much smaller, and in many patients can have surgery without drains. However, I have seen multiple patients come from other surgeons because they developed a seroma despite the suturing of the tissue. This is not the surgeon's fault, but some patients just do not heal fast enough or put out too much fluid for the body to absorb.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

After Mini Tummy Tuck drains are usually removed between 3-5 days

A Mini Tummy Tuck involves a much less extensive dissection and surgery than a full Tummy Tuck or Abdoominoplasty, thus there is typically less drainage.

Some surgeons do not use drains after a Mini Tummy Tuck.

However I prefer the "rather safe than sorry" approach and do use small drains after a Mini tummy tuck. I do not want to take the chance that there will be a small collection of fluid which could later require needle draiunage.

Typically I am able to remove the drains by 3 days or at most 5 days.


How long do drains stay in after a tummy tuck

Drains are typically removed about one week after a tummy tuck procedure. This time period may be a bit longer or shorter depending on the amount of fluid that is coming out from the drains. Your surgeon will let you know more specifically at the time of your consultation.

Best wishes,


William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 208 reviews

How Long Can a Person Expect to Have Drains After Having a Mini Tummy Tuck?

It can vary to the amounts draining. In most cases a week but I have had them in place for 2 to 3 weeks if the drainage is still over 25 cc's per day. 

Drains depend on the surgeon and the procedure


If your surgeon uses a drain he/she will likely keep it only until the output is about 20-30 cc per 24 hrs which would be less than one week for a mini tummy tuck.  If your plastic surgeon preserves the lymphatics in the fat that are on top of your abdominal wall he/she may elect to not even use a drain for a mini tummy tuck.  I always use a drain regardless since I think it can only help.

All the best,

Dr Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 122 reviews

Depends on patient.

It can be a few days to a couple of weeks as it all depends on the patient. You should ask your surgeon for their opinion.


Usually, drains remain in place for about two weeks after a tummy tuck, however sometimes they do remain longer.

Removing drains after a mini-abdominoplasty

Drains, if needed, will generally be removed in 5 to 10 days.  The drainage should be less than 30 cc over a 24 hour period prior to removal.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Drains after a mini-tummy tuck

Every plastic surgeon manages drains a little differently.  In most cases, suctions drains are left in until the total output is less than 30cc (one ounce) for a 24 hour period.  There are some plastic surgeons who prefer to not use drains, and instead utilize progressive tension sutures and/or tissue glues.  It is best to clear up this issue with your plastic surgeon ahead of time to avoid any confusion.

Kelly Gallego, MD, FACS
Yuba City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Mini Tummy tuck and post op drains

Although, there is no set rule for drain removal after a mini tummy tuck, most surgeons will remove the drains when the drainage falls below 30 cc in a 24 hour period.  In most cases the drainage will decrease to this amount in 5 to 7 days after the tummy tuck is performed.  Wearing a compression garment and limiting excessive fluid and salt intake can help to shorten the length of time the drains need to remain in place. 

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

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