Drainage After Tummy Tuck?

I had a tummy tuck 2 weeks ago and have one drainage left in. There is approx 100- 120 mls of Frank blood draining daily.... is this normal?

Doctor Answers 3

Draining two weeks after tummy tuck

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100-200cc of bloody drainage two weeks after is not the norm. You must have had a small hematoma. It's good that your surgeon not only used drains, but left them in a bit longer in order to let the blood come out. I would only be concerned if you should start with a fever.

Drains and Tummy Tucks

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Thank you for your post. Whenever there is a potential space in your body, your body tends to fill that space with serous fluid (the yellow type of fluid that also comes out of a 'weeping wound'. This is similar to when you get a blister: the layers of skin separate and fluid is deposited in to the space. In a tummy tuck, the space is in between the skin/fat layer and the muscle layer. Most surgeons will place a drain to remove this fluid while your body is secreting it until the fat layer grows back together with the muscle layer. At that point, no more fluid is secreted into the area, because there is no more space for fluid. The length of time that this takes varies from patient to patient. Some patients heal much faster, thus the layers seal together much faster. Also, the more twisting motion you have in your belly area, the slower the two layers grow back together because they are moving in relation to each other. The fluid coming through the drain can be initially dark red, and eventually clears to pink then yellow. This is because it takes just a little bit of blood to make the fluid dark red. Also, initially, there can be a large amount of fluid (few hundred cc's in the first day is not out of the range of normal) and this should slow down substantially over next few days. Once the fluid slows down to the amount that your surgeon is comfortable with (usually 25-50 cc in 24 hours) then they will be pulled. There is minimal discomfort in pulling the drain in most patients.
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.
Having 100 - 120 cc of dark red drainage per day is not abnormal. 
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Drainage After Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

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Most plastic surgeons use drains during an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck).  This helps to eliminate any fluid that would ordinarily collect in the space created under the tightened abdominal skin.  This fluid is generally serous, clear yellow tinged, after the first several days.  When the drainage has diminished sufficiently, the drains can be removed.  Most surgeons use a cutoff of around 30 cc per day.  When the drainage is bloody, it usually means the patient had a hematoma, or bleeding at some point after surgery.  Retained blood can cause infections or additional scarring.  It is best to leave drains until any bloody drainage has significantly resolved.  If there is significant swelling of the abdomen after tummy tuck, it is prudent to contact your surgeon for evaluation.

Glen Brooks, MD
Springfield Plastic Surgeon

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