Silicone drainage tubes are used by trained Plastic Surgeons for many different operations.  The purpose is to drain extra fluid that other wise might otherwise accumulate under the skin, fat or muscle following an operation.    Patients generally find this annoying and uncomfortable and they can impede mobility and therefore slow aspects of healing. Over the years, surgeons have improved procedures and found ways to eliminate the need for these drains in a variety of operations.

As examples, I have stopped using drains for facelifts, breast reduction, breast lifts, and most breast revision surgeries.  Abdominoplasties are the most recent of my procedures that I have eliminated the use of drainage tubes.

This choice was based on numerous studies and  changes in surgical techniques that all had promising results.   I have found that most of my patients do  very well  with the exception of those have large areas of liposuction or lipo-abdominoplasty.  I may use drains on a case by case basis for these patients.

A newer option now can include the use of tissue glue to glue the abdominal skin to the muscle at the end of the case eliminating any space that previously required a drian


Controlling pain after surgery provides a more comfortable healing experience but also quicker healing.  When patients are painfree after a tummy tuck, they are able to get out of bed and move around more easily.  This decreases the chance of DVT or blood clots in the leg veins, pneumonia and muscle weakness that comes from inactivity after any surgery.

In the past , in addition to a combination of oral medications to control pain , I have used injections of long acting Marcaine which would last several hours.  Over the years, a variety of Pain-pumps became available.  These were also plastic tubes much like drainage tubes that would be placed at the surgical site and drip a topical anaesthetic for up to 3 days.   This was a great improvement in pain control.

In recent years , Exparel , was developed.  This is a long acting injectiable medication, (bupivicaine, Marcaine) that was formulated to last for about three days.

This is injected all along the muscle and skin to provide pain relief.   I have  termed the Pain-less, Drainless Tummy Tuck.  It is not completely pain free but there is definitely much “less-pain”

If you go to a doctor who uses drains, or if your situation requires that I use a drains, they usually stay in 3-5 days but may be required to remain in longer.

Tags: #abdominoplasty #drains #exparel #painpump #tummytuck #plasticsurgery #cosmeticsurgery

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Orange County Plastic Surgeon