Just had a full tuck with lipo and have 4 drains. Can't remember what color is good or bad for the drainage. Is dark yellow liquid coming from the drains good or bad?
What Color Should the Drain Outage Be After Tummy Tuck?
Doctor Answers 7
Drain output following tummy tuck
The color is not necessarily used as a good or bad indicator. Generally, the initial drainage is bloody and tends to be thick and dark with a tendency to clot. As the drainage diminishes it goes from dark red to lighter red (Hawaiin punch) to clearer red orange, to a lighter orange yellow and eventually to a clear yellow (serous) fluid. This is typically about the time the drainage dimishes.
Color of Tummy Tuck Drainage
All drains do is remove the fluid appearing in between the two walls of the operated areas. As the fluid is removed, the opposite walls spend more time in contact with each other and ultimately stick to one another stopping the fluid production.
The color of the fluid reflects WHERE in the stage of healing the wound is located. Early after surgery, the fluid is bloody. As the tiny oozing stops, the drainage becomes blood tinged and occasionally narrow strips of clots are seen in a fluid that resembles the color of CLEAR apple juice. Later, no blood or clots are seen and the color of drainage changes to CLEAR light SEROUS yellow.
The ONLY time I would worry is if the color becomes CLOUDY, or greenish or begin to have any odor. Such changes may indicate an infection. At all times, if you have any questions, I am sure your surgeon would want to know.
Drainage following Tummy Tuck
I also use 4 drains routinely on a full tummy tuck. Typically the drainage is initially red since is it largely blood. Over the course of a few days as the drainage usually decreases in volume it also becomes less red and more yellow. At this later point, the drainage is largely serum.
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Drainage amount and color change as healing occurs.
During the process the volume slowly decreases as well. When the drainage is clear and below 25cc per 24 hours, the drains can be removed.
Tummy tuck and drains
Drain output fluid is usually bloody becoming more serous (yellow) after a few days. I don't think any specific color of drain output should be concerning; however, thicker/more dense fluid especially associated with an unpleasant odor would be concerned (no matter what the color).
Drain output after tummy tuck
Initially your drain output should be a little blood-tinged. After a few days, it begins to look like Kool-Aid -- pink to red. Following this it will become more watery and yellow to clear as the output decreases in volume. If the output smells foul to you, or you are concerned about the color, I suggest calling your surgeon for a brief evaluation. Good luck, /nsn.
Drains and Tummy Tucks
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.
Pablo Prichard, MD
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.