What is Your Opinion Regarding the 'No Drains, No Pain Pump' Abdominoplasty Technique?

I have been researching the different techniques used for abdominoplasty and would like to get the the opinion from a PS's point of view on the 'no drains, no pain pump' technique on a full TT? From what I've researched it has a much faster recovery time as well as minimal pain after surgery. Is this technique a proven one and how long have PS been performing it? Thank you.

Doctor Answers 14

No Drains, No Pain Pump Abdominoplasty

Both drains and pain pumps are optional in abdominoplasty. What an individual surgeon does is based on experience and personal preference. Both drains to suction the flap tight and hold it to the underlying tissues and placing multiple rows of sutures to hold the flap against the underlying tissue work well. It is my experience that both work well and have essentially the same type of problems. There is really no advantage of one over the other. I personally use drains as I have seen less fluid collections with using them and using the sutures lengthens the anesthetic time. Pain pumps have significant theoretical benefit, but I have found them more of an inconvenience than benefit. Almost all of my patients do well with minimal pain meds which they stop using in 2-3 days. The only other time of discomfort is in 5-8 days when you are walking bent over and your back starts aching. No pain pump will control this. All of these options are quite old, but there is a new topical anesthetic that can be put in the wound to control pain for several days.

Highlands Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

209 Hospital Drive
Highlands, NC 28741

Comments on the "No drains, no pain pump abdominoplasty technique."

First of all, describing use (or no use) of a drain and/or a pain pump as a "technique" is a bit of a stretch. For example, I use below-the-skin dissolving sutures on most of my surgical procedures, as it avoids crosshatch marks and the discomfort of suture removal.  I believe this type of closure yields a superior scar in most situations, which is why I choose to use it. This method of incision closure could be called a technique, but to describe my tummy tuck as the "No stitch abdominoplasty technique" would be disingenuous as well as incorrectly implying that this is somehow a bona fide distinguishing difference between my method of incision closure as compared to other plastic surgeons. I'd rather just tell my patients that I close all of my incisions really precisely and take pride in the good scars that this attention to detail yields, rather than describing it as a "technique" that makes it innately "superior" to all others!

The same applies to use of drains or pain pumps. I actually use a long-acting local anesthetic injection into the muscle sheath where I place my muscle-tightening sutures, as this helps reduce post-operative pain and muscle spasm from this standpoint. I also inject the incision areas, and when I use a drain, the drain exit site(s). Most of my patients have very little "pain," and use little narcotic medications, but then I also have careful surgical technique, and use anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing medications for my patients in addition to simply covering the pain with narcotics.

Many surgeons use drains; others do not. To describe use as "bad" and non-use as "good" is meaningless--let's compare subjective patient pain responses post-op, return to activity and work status, and final cosmetic results. These are significantly more important than use of drains, pain pumps or not!

So choose your surgeon based on his/her results, and realize that those results are a culmination of training, experience, and prior patient outcomes, NOT a choice to use or not use a drain, pain pump, suture technique, or other such issue. I know patients worry about pain, some more than others, and that IS a very real and important concern. But a much more important one, IMHO, is whatever your chosen surgeon does to achieve the results you desire.

Two horns do not make a symphony. Neither do these two "techniques" make a fabulous result! Choose your surgeon based on results, not technique! Don't get me wrong--careful technique IS important, but in every step and component of a surgical procedure, not just two. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 186 reviews

4825 Olson Memorial Highway
Minneapolis, MN 55422

Drain or no Drain with abdominoplasty surgery

There is no right or wrong answer to this question and every technique will not be correct on every patient.  The use of progressive tightening sutures has been well established and many plastic surgeons feel confident in not placing drains.  As far as a pain pump, also a personal decision.  In my opinion they help tremendously and help get my patients out of bed the night of surgery and walking around.  This will reduce the chances of DVT/PE.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

3096 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
Duluth, GA 30097

No Drain Tummy Tuck

The No Drain Tummy Tuck has great results by surgeons who know how to do it. However, it is not the most important part of a tummy tuck. The Pain Pumps work well but there are other ways of reducing discomfort also. 

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

2333 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60618

The no drain no pain tummy tuck

Tummy tuck without the use of drains has been our technique for ten years and running. Our patients do get up quicker and feel better. We also don't use pain pumps, and again the recovery experience is faster and more pleasant without. Proven yes, without a doubt.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

8901 West Golf Road
Des Plaines, IL 60016

No drains no pumps in good hands is excellent technique/ no drenajes no bombas en buenas manos es exceelente tecnica

i have been doing it since  several years without any big  complication exception seroma, the secret it is in doing a good coagulation and coaptation trough several internal coapting sutures than selling both fascies, another  exception could be a big complete circumpherential TT

las excepciones  serian una completa TT circunferencial, y se forman algunas veces  seromas, el secreto  esta en hacer varios  nudos internos que sellan ambas fascias la profunda y la superficial

Ramon Navarro, MD
Mexico Plastic Surgeon

Calle 54 No. 365 T