2 Weeks Post-Op TT, What Can I do to Slow Down Drainage?

Had tummy tuck 15 days ago, still draining 75cc a day of blood colored liquid. I have recovered nicely so I have resumed normal activity, ie, driving, shopping, working at my desk job...nothing strenuous. Would bedrest help my drainage slow down? I started driving and going out on short trips to store about 4 days after surgery. Also, would limiting my fluid intake help slow it down? I really want this drain out and I am concerned that it is still so deeply blood colored.

Doctor Answers 7

Drains and Tummy Tucks

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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
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Tummy tuck drain outputs.

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For my patients, we use a compression garment and encourage an increase in their protein intake. Tummy tuck drains can take up to 4 weeks before they are ready to be removed. The bloody staining of the fluid is normal, and this should continue to lighten.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

What can be done to slow drainage following Tummy Tuck?

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My patients are asked to keep wearing their compression garment and be sensitble about their activities.  You want to heal properly, and while we want you up and moving about, you must still limit your activities for a period of time.  Talk to your plastic surgeon to get his/her advice on your activity levels and how long they would like to see you wear your compression garment.

Robert N. Young, MD, FACS
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Tummy Tuck drainage

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Drainage after tummy tuck can be a very annoying situation for people. Unfortunately, you cannot control it. Limiting your fluid intact and bed rest is not recommended. My patients are asked to wear their postop garment and limit their activities during the healing period. The body needs to heal prior to resuming normal activity. Resuming normal activities during the healing period may increase drainage if the tissues have not healed together. Your Plastic Surgeon should be able to explain this to you. Its great that you are healing well, but you may be doing too much soon after your surgery. Make sure to check in with your Plastic Surgeon.

Good luck

Stanley Okoro, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 168 reviews

Significant drainage 2 weeks s/p tummy tuck

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Even though 75cc per 24 hrs coming out of your drain at 2 weeks is still a lot, it isn't an abnormal or concerning level. Unfortunately, there is nothing really that you can or should do to help rapidly decrease the drainage and bed rest is an imprudent choice. You can be active but not very vigorous. Discuss particulars with your surgeon as he/she was the person who operated on you.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Drainage after Tummy Tuck?

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Thank you for the question.

Given that you are not doing a thing “strenuous”,  there is not much you can do to decrease the drain output. Possibly decreasing your “normal activity”  such as driving and  shopping  may be helpful.  Bed rest will not necessarily decrease output  If you are otherwise taking it easy.

Drain output should slowly become more serous (yellow color),  unless you have had a hematoma which may take a longer period of time to drain. Given your concerns frequent follow-up with your plastic surgeon may be helpful.

Best wishes.

What to do about drainage.

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Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to make the drainage decrease.  In theory, bed rest would minimally decrease lymphatic flow and drainage, but it is not recommended.  Bed rest increases the risks of other complications such as blood clots and pneumonia.  Light activity without exercise is a normal recommendation after tummy tuck.

Do not limit fluid intake and follow the post operative instructions of your surgeon.  The drainage will lighten   and decrease on its own when it is ready.  Check in with your doctor for reassurance .

Michael S. Hopkins, MD (retired)
Albuquerque Plastic Surgeon

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.