Is It Common to Have a Drain in 2 Months After a Tummy Tuck?

Left drain was removed a little over 2 weeks ago since fluid was under 25 cc, drainage was green, was told they had never seen that before. Swab taken of area, small amount of bacteria present, antibiotics switched from Keflex to Cipro. Lower abdomen still considerably swollen.

Doctor Answers 11

Prolonged Drains after Tummy Tuck

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Sorry to hear about the prolonged drain after your tummy tuck.

By far, too much activity too soon after surgery is the main reason patients develop prolonged drainage after a tummy tuck. Motion between the overlying skin and the underlying muscle layer prevents the two layers from adhering, the body exudes serum into the space, the fluid accumulates and prevents adherence.

Sometimes, a low grade infection can actually help to close the space by causing enough inflammation to stimulate scarring that can close off the space.

My advice:

  • slow down
    • minimize your activity level
    • don't do any housework: don't sweep, don't vacuum, don't rake the leaves
    • don't drive
  • speak with your surgeon
    • why does he/she think the drainage is so persistent
    • what are his recommendations for you, at this point
    • at what point does he/she think a procedure might be warranted to try to seal the open space

Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Drain after Tummy Tuck?

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Thank you for the question.

By far, most drains are removed within the first month after tummy tuck surgery. However, it is not unheard of to require the drain for a longer period of time. As long as you are followed closely by your plastic surgeon you will likely be just fine in the long run.

Best wishes.

Drainage after tummy tuck

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Drains usually stay in for about 2 weeks after surgery, but can rarely stay in longer. The green fluid may represent a remnant of the blue marking dye used for the plication.  

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Persistent and prolonged drainage after tummy tuck

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This is quite uncommon but some individuals do demonstrate persistent or greater than average amounts of drainage. You should ensure that there is no foreign body which is responsible for this. Otherwise it is likely to resolve but rarely requires surgical ablation of the pseudocyst.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Drains are out around a week after tummy tuck.

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I'm surprised to hear that drains have been left in for 2 months after a tummy tuck.  I can't say that this is unnecessarily long but I have never heard of them being in that long after an uncomplicated abdominoplasty.

Drains for tummy tuck

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I usually remove drains after about a week for most abdominoplasties, and a bit longer for massive weight loss patients.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Tummy Tuck Drains "how many days?"

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In my practice we remove the drains between 5 and 7 days after surgery. If there is excessive fluid still draining after that time, one needs to examine the cause. Keeping the drains in at this point will probably not treat the cause, and might act as a conduit for bacteria to enter the body. If there is bacterial contamination of a seroma cavity (fluid filled space), antibiotics will not be able to clear the bacteria, and the area needs to be cleaned up surgically and closed again.

Drains are necessary after abdominoplasty.

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Drains are a "double-edged sword" - they are needed to remove seroma fluid after abdominoplasty but can also be a source of infection if they are left in too long.  I generally keep my patients on oral antibiotics for as long as they have a drain.  The longest I have had to keep a drain in place after abdominoplasty is 4 weeks. 

Marisa Lawrence, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon

Prolonged drainage after a tummy tuck

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Prolonged drainage from one of your drains is rare, but can happen after a tummy tuck. Your surgeon can inject some medications ( such as Doxycycline) through the drain which can create some inflammation which can help close the space and decrease the drainage.  If this fails, you may require surgery to remove the lining of the seroma (fluid collection) inside your abdomen and possible have some sutures placed to close off the "dead space".

Consult with a board certified plastic surgeon for treatment options for this difficult problem.

Best wishes,

Dr. Bruno

William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 412 reviews

Drains after a tummy tuck

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Hello Deb,

It would be a little unusual to leave a drain in for 2 months after a tummy tuck.  I generally do not leave a drain any longer than 3 weeks, usually 5 days to 2 weeks.  If there is a concern of infection associated with a drain, in my opinion this would be a reason to remove it.  A drain is a foreign body.  Bacteria love foreign bodies.

York Jay Yates, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 189 reviews

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.