What is Average Time for Drains to Stay in After Tummy Tuck?

Doctor Answers 37

Sometimes you don't even need them

Hi Time4meTx

Thanks for asking a very popular question.  Drains are a tricky thing in plastic surgery.  We use them because we often have large surface areas after surgery.  If we don't leave drains, fluid will accumulate under the belly wall and eventually could burst open the incision or become infected.  When drains are left for a tummy tuck, i would say the average is 1-2 weeks.  Sometimes patients may need them in longer depending on the amount of drainage coming out.  

For my patients, I like to perform a technique that DOES NOT REQUIRE drains.  It may take an extra 30minutes to perform, but in this technique we actually close off all the dead space with sutures.  By doing this we have found that drains are not required.  It also allows us to remove MORE tissue which can be important if you are trying to get the last bit of stretch marks out.  And finally it improves the scar, because the technique removes tension from the final closure and prevents widening of the scar post-operatively.

Hope this was helpful.  Good Luck

Tummy tuck drains

Often, after a tummy tuck is performed there are drains needed.   On ocassion, a mini tummy tuck will not require a drain at all but this is for a tiny thin patient who has not had babies before (usually, but there are some genetic exceptions). 

With that, the drains are typically dry within a week.   When they come out, the office nurse clips the suture and the drain literally falls out.  They keep draining for a couple of days, just a few drops and then they dry up.  The little mark over the course of a  few months should become invisible.  By then, you likely have started a silicone and steroid cream of some sort that will make it go away even quicker.

Ricardo A. Meade, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 102 reviews


For a straightforward abdominoplasty, drains will be in for a week or so.  If a lot of liposuction has been performed, maybe 2 weeks.  Drains are not always required, but if they are not used, seroma formation and the need for in-office aspirations will be more common.

Jeffrey D. Wagner, MD
Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Average time that drains are left in place after a tummy tuck

Thank you for your question.  For an average tummy tuck, drains are often left in place for about a week.  Occasionally and depending upon the extent of the procedure these drains will be left in for longer depending on the amount of drainage that is being put out over a 24 hour period.  The purpose of the drains are to prevent the development of a seroma (a collection of fluid below the skins surface) post-operatively.   I hope this helps.

What is Average Time for Drains to Stay in After Tummy Tuck?

Drains stay on for an average of 7 to 10 days. We look for less than 25cc of fluid being drained within an 48 hour period to determine if the drains are ready to be removed. Your body will continue producing fluid but the small amount is easily reabsorbed by the body. Thank you for your question. 

Drains are usually removed 1-2 weeks after surgery

Everyone's body responds differently to the stress of surgery, but everyone's body produces fluid in the area treated by surgery after abdominoplasty.  Technical details of the surgery, including whether liposuction is performed, impact much fluid is produced.  Fluid production usually peaks 2-3 days after surgery and improves thereafter.  Often drains are removed within a week of surgery, but may persist for longer depending on the individual.  

Drains Typically Left in for 7-14 Days

                   Drains are frequently used in the post-operative period in abdominoplasty patients to minimize the potential for seroma formation.  Drains are typically left in place for 7-14 days following surgery.  They are usually removed when drainage drops below 25cc per 24 hour period.

                   The management of surgical drainage varies from patient to patient.  Each patient has unique surgical anatomy and surgical procedures are modified for each individual patient for these reasons.  In addition each surgeon has his own drain protocols.  In some patients, drainage may persist for longer periods of time, especially if patients are physically active.  When drains are removed to early, there may be an increased complication rate.  This might result in seroma formation which requires multiple aspirations or replacement of the drain.  Although drains seem to be a major nuisance, they serve  a very important function in most abdominoplasty patients.

Drainage after TT

This   will  depends    on  doctor's desicion but  usually   will be    when   the  drainage  is  lower  than   50 cc  per day , some  others   just    take  8-10  to   15  days   

Cynthia Disla, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

Removing drains following an abdominoplasty

Drains usually stay in place for 5 to 10 days.  Once the drainage is less than 30 cc over a 24 hour period they can be removed. 

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Drains and tummy tucks

Great question.   Drains are small silastic tubes that are usually placed below your incision to allow any extra fluid building up where your excess skin and fat was removed with your tummy tuck.  Drains are not painful but are somewhat of a nuisance. They tend to tug at your skin and patients are eager to have them removed as soon as possible.  But they are necessary to prevent postoperative fluid collections also known as seromas.   Depending on your surgeon and exact procedure being performed (mini-tummy tuck, full tummy tuck, extended tummy tuck +/- liposuction), you will likely require 1 or 2 drains.  These drains generally stay in for 1-2 weeks depending on the output from each drain.  They are easily removed in the office.  Hope this helps.


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.