About the Tummy Tuck, how are the drainage hoses removed? Is it extremely painful?
Removing Drainage Hoses After Tummy Tuck Painful?
Doctor Answers (8)
Is drain removal painful?
The three variables to consider are the technique of the person removing the drain, the anxiety level and pain threshold of the patient (you), and the qualities of the drains (they are not all created equal).
It is important to be calm and at peace when the procedure is to be performed, as there is no question that anxious, stressed patients experience more pain with any procedure than calm, peaceful patients do. That's your part...
The person performing the procedure can also do a lot to make these little procedures less stressful and painful, by being a calming influence and being sensitive the patient's pain and anxiety (this is where the homework you did in selecting your surgeon in the first place will pay off, or make you wish you had gone somewhere else).
Finally, the drains themselves are important. Some drains are less painful to have in and remove than others (although they might be more expensive). In our practice, we use drains that are Teflon coated and a constant diameter, and almost no one even feels the point at which we remove them. I've even asked my patients to close their eyes and tell me when they think I'm removing the drain- and most people don't realize the drain is out until I ask them to open their eyes and I show it to them!
Don't have too much stress about this- even if you do feel something, it's usually a minor pinch that lasts but a second and will not by any means be a source of regret for you.
More worry than it's worth
Most of my patients come in worried about the drains coming out. I would say 99% say "Thats it?" when I tell them we're done. Don't worry...
The tubes usually slip out easily unless they are left in for a long time during which time tissue can grow into the holes. I usually removed the drains within 2-7 days depending on the surgery and amount of drainage. It takes a few seconds. If using suction drains, I take the drain off the suction bulb and pull gently to dislodge it. Once I feel the tube move easily, I put it back on very minimal suction so that it suctions any small collections as I remove it. Patients are usually more apprehensive than the removal itself warrants
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It depends how you prepare your patients mentally
I can't say that drain removal is totally painless. Every person's pain treshhold is different as well. It is important to take the drain off suction first and also make sure you cut the suture holding the drain in place before pulling the drain. I tell my patients that they might feel a burning sensation as it slips out and this can last about 30 sec. A gentle pressure over the exit site helps alleviate the discomfort. On the other hand, many have no pain at all, but the apprehension and unknown makes one scared.
Drain removal after tummy tuck is very easy.
Carrying the drains around for a few days can be uncomfortable. In New York City, we leave drains in for a week in tummy tuck patients.
But removing the drains takes a few seconds, and you only feel a quick twinge.
It depends on the drain and who is removing it
The drain I use (only one) is a very thin round drain which does not get wider on the inside of the patient. It slides out easily like a piece of spaghetti.
Other drains are a bit more uncomfortable to remove but if done gently and with some empathy, all goes fine. I just found over the years that this single drain actually works better than the 2 wider ones I used to use and is so much easier to remove.
Drains and Tummy Tucks
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.
Pablo Prichard, MD
The drains are soft flat or round rubber cannulae under the tummy skin/fat, exiting through either very small opening made or directly through the ends of the long incision. The process or removing them is uncomfortable but generally not extremelly painful, especially if they are removed slowly and with care.
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.