When you get a tummy tuck...do PS prefer drains or no drains and why?

Doctor Answers 10

When you get a tummy tuck...do PS prefer drains or no drains and why?

While some plastic surgeons do not use drains following an TT, I feel that using drains minimizes fluid buildup and keeps the abdominal skin more adherent to the abs. It;s a fairly simple addition to the procedure and is well worth it.


New York Plastic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

When you get a tummy tuck...do PS prefer drains or no drains and why?

The preference for drains should not be an element for inclusion or exclusion in your surgeon search.  The operation should be tailored to your specifications and anatomy to produce a dramatic result. Seek out a plastic surgeon who has performed these procedures hundreds of times and has a great number of reviews and before and after pictures.

Kenneth Hughes, MD

Beverly Hills, CA

TT and drains

It's  frequently the PS choice, and  may depend on your particular situation. My  guess is that most PS use drains in the full TT. If a serum develops, with or without a drain there s a delay in the healing process and requires aspiration until it is no longer  present.  I use drains in almost all cases

Don Fontana, MD
Waldorf Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Drains usually best with tummy tuck

The drainless tummy tuck uses a technique called progressive tension sutures that minimize fluid buildup. I think that most of the time a drain is better even with the PTS method, but it can be removed early.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Drains or no drains

Using drains during abdominoplasty is not something to necessarily be afraid of, in fact, in my opinion, many 'brainless' abdominoplasties have had problems and poor results. A thorough discussion with your plastic surgeon will help you to understand the quality of their surgery and results and whether or not they think drains would be of benefit. And, by the way, drains do not have to be 'in place' very long at all. I have done both procedures of course.

Leland Deane, MD
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

When you get a tummy tuck...do PS prefer drains or no drains and why?

I'm not sure you'll ever get a consensus amongst plastic surgeons on anything, but I personally prefer drainless in patients who are eligible because the healing process is much quicker and less painful. In my opinion the only reason someone wouldn't offer drainless is because they don't know the technique. Hope that helps! 

Mathew A. Plant, MD, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Drains or no drains for tummy tuck... why yes or no

Thanks for sharing your question. I can appreciate your concern.

My preference is to leave drains. the reason is that the trauma will generate fluid despite the technique that is used. this fluid when it accumulates, will prevent the tissues from healing back together. 


Finally, make sure that you have a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon.

Wishing you the best in your journey

Drains help after tummy tuck, but not always used

I have attached a link that might be helpful...

Hi brileke96. The drains' purpose is to remove excess fluid that accumulates after a tuck, and it is a good indicator of what is happening inside. If fluid gets trapped underneath, it can cause fullness, get infected, get fibrotic and firm, etc. - in the absence of functioning drains, the fluid is removed with a needle & syringe several times a week until it stops re accumulating. The use of progressive tension sutures is effective in reducing fluid accumulation, thereby permitting faster drain removal, or even not placing drains, depending upon surgeon preference. The sutures have been very effective for my patients. Be sure to consult with an ABPS certified plastic surgeon and see their results and inquire about their complications. Remember, if drains for a short while after surgery lets you heal faster without complications, then they are worth the temporary hassle. Good luck,

When you get a tummy tuck...do PS prefer drains or no drains and why?

Thank you for the question. It is very common to receive different opinions from different plastic surgeons about the best way to treat a specific “problem”. Each plastic surgeon may have his/her opinion that is based on their specific/unique education, experience, and personal preferences. 
 The use of drains for tummy tuck surgery will vary from one practice to another;  there is no "correct" answer. In my practice, I currently use drains for all tummy tuck patients; I ALSO use progressive tension sutures for most patients.
I hope this, and the attached link (dedicated to tummy tuck surgery concerns), helps.

Drains vs. No Drains with a Tummy Tuck

I use drains with all my tummy tucks and I'll tell you why.  With every intervention in medicine you have to weigh the risks and benefits and after that analysis determine what is the best for the patient.  A tummy tuck involves redraping the abdominal wall tissue.  The skin and fat is lifted off of the abdominal wall, the muscles are tightened, and the extra tissue is removed.  Think of straightening the sheets on your bed--you lift up, pull tight, and tuck in the extra.  The space that is created in between the flap of tissue and the muscle is a raw space that can fill up with fluid.  When you scrape your knee, clear fluid weeps from the surface.  The same thing happens on the inside with a tummy tuck.  Drains help remove that fluid.  If the fluid builds up to rapidly, the body can't reabsorb it and a fluid collection will develop.  This is called a seroma.  That fluid collection can cause lots of problems that end up costing the patient more time and money for additional treatments and not to mention can worsen the result.  So doctors want to minimize that from happening of course.  Drains remove the fluid directly, but what if you could minimize the amount of fluid that is created in the first place?  There are techniques that claim to cause less fluid buildup, but the main way to is minimize the space that fluid can collect in.  That is done by minimal undermining and use of progressive tension sutures.  These are sutures that are placed in between the abdominal flap and the muscles.  Most surgeons will use them.  They do seem to help.  I use them.  They make sense.  These sutures create little islands of scar tissue inside which minimizes the size of the space that fluid can collect in.  Some surgeons claim that that is all you need and drains aren't necessary.  I feel that in order to avoid drains you have to be more conservative in your undermining.  That means you can't pull the tissue as tight and you can't redrape it the same way as you do when you fully release the abdominal tissue.  So those that don't use drains, simply can't create, as safely, the same type of result as when drains are used.  That's the main reason I use drains.  I want to be able to fully undermine the tissue so I can tighten the muscles the right way and remove as much skin as I feel is needed.  I don't want to minimize my result, and end up with loose tissue in the upper abdomen, just so I don't have to use drains.  Lastly, the other issue is what is the downside to using drains?  There are ways to remove drains so they don't hurt.  Don't believe that they are incredibly painful to remove.  It is highly dependent on surgeon technique.  And also, they don't get in the way of recovery.  The drains are in for usually 7 days and during that period people are taking it easy anyhow.  What's the risks of drains?  I guess pain, but again that isn't an issue, infections, but not if they are taken out after a short time, and a small extra scar, but when placed properly isn't an issue.  So from my perspective, I want my patients to have the nicest result possible with the least complications, so that means drains. Best of luck.

Jason E. Leedy, MD
Cleveland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 112 reviews

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