No drain. Why is it that most women with TT and Lipo have drains for many days later?

My surgeon tells me the drains come out before I go home. 

Doctor Answers 8

Drains and tummy tucks

There seems to be a new trend in plastic surgery to have a tummy tuck and not have a drain placed. The data on this procedure would suggest to me that the rate at which seromas form, which need to be aspirated with a needle, are  more common than after patients who have had a drain. Especially if you had a fair amount of liposuction to the area I think a drain becomes a necessity. There are ways to remove these drains that make it less painful. Ask your surgeon what their thoughts are on this topic. 

Louisville Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

No drain after TT

When the skin is separated from the abdominal wall during the tummy tuck, it leaves a raw surface that can ooze blood and fluid until it sticks back down to the muscle. That blood and fluid could accumulate and cause what's called a seroma (a collection of fluid under the skin). For that reason, many surgeons use drains so that the fluid drains out, rather than accumulating under the skin.

However, there are newer techniques that allow us to avoid drains in many tummy tucks. Some surgeons use "quilting sutures" or "progressive tension sutures" to stick the skin back down to the abdominal wall. This works very well to prevent fluid buildup, take tension off the incision, and reduce swelling. Some surgeons will use quilting sutures, but also place a drain for a short time. All of the above options are acceptable, drains or no drains, and will depend upon your surgeon's experience and preferences.
Best wishes-

Susan MacLennan, MD
Banff Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews


Dear GrammaJ,

The risk of not draining is to collect fluid, a process called a seroma and a seroma requires drainage.
Some tummy tucks if they are minimal in nature a quilting technique is used to attach the tummy flap to the rectus abdominis can minimize the risk or use of a drain.

Excessive tummy tucks, however, even in quilting have a higher risk of a seroma and some Canadian plastic surgeons opt for drains.

I hope this explains why you may or may not need a drain.

To find out more or schedule a consultation, please visit the link below.

R. Stephen Mulholland, M.D.
Certified Plastic Surgeon
Yorkville, Toronto

R. Stephen Mulholland, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Drains and Tummy Tuck

If your surgeon uses progressive tension sutures effectively, you will not need drains for abdominoplasty. Placing these sutures is time-consuming and does take experience to avoid dimples and excessive pain post-op.  If no sutures were placed, then drains should be left in until drainage falls to a 'safe' level, or the drains cease to be effective. I can't offer an explanation for 12-hour drains.

Michael Kreidstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Drains not necessary

Drains aren’t always necessary during the early stages of recovery. I don’t usually use them, which my patients tend to appreciate. However, this is something that you should discuss with your particular surgeon because every patient is different.

Leila Kasrai, MD, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

No drain

Hello dear, thanks for your post. A seroma is a collection of fluid that builds up under the surface of your skin. Seromas may develop after a surgical procedure, most often at the site of the surgical incision or where tissue was removed. The fluid, called serum, doesn’t always build up right away. The swelling and fluid may start collecting several weeks after surgery.

A seroma may form after a surgical procedure. In some cases, a seroma may form after a very minor surgery. Most seromas, though, will appear after a rather extensive procedure, or one in which a lot of tissue is removed or disrupted.

Your surgical team will place drainage tubes in and around the incision to try to prevent a seroma. The drainage tubes may remain in your body for a few hours or a few days after the surgery in order to prevent fluid buildup.

In many cases, a seroma will have the appearance of a swollen lump, like a large cyst. It may also be tender or sore when touched. A clear discharge from the surgical incision is common when a seroma is present. You may have an infection if the discharge becomes bloody, changes color, or develops an odor.

Surgical drainage systems are used in some surgeries to prevent a seroma from developing. Before your procedure, however, you should discuss with your doctor the likelihood of developing a seroma and what they can do to help prevent it.

Also, ask your doctor about compression garments. These medical devices are designed to help skin and tissue heal faster. They may also reduce swelling and bruising after a surgery. These dressings may help reduce your risk of developing a seroma.

Good luck :)

Tania Medina de Garcia, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 418 reviews

Drains used for all tummy tucks

I cannot provide you an answer why you did not have any drains placed; maybe you did not have a tummy tuck. Drains are used any time there is undermining performed where a cavity is created that fluid can drain into.

Arian Mowlavi, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

Drains after Tummy tuck

Thanks for sharing your question. I can appreciate your concern.
Usually a tummy tuck has a big area of undermining. the tissues produce fluid (serum) that has the components necessary to favor healing the wound.
this fluid may accumulate preventing the tissue to heal close to each other. for this reason the drains are needed. the timing of removal varies among surgeons. I usually keep them for 2 weeks.

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

Wishing you the best in your journey

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.