What are the pros and cons of a drainless tummy tuck?

What pros and cons of drain less tummy tuck!

Doctor Answers 14

Pros and cons of drains with tummy tuck

Whether or not to use drains with a tummy tuck is largely dependent on surgeon preference.  There is really not a right or wrong answer. The pros of not using the drains is that you will not have to deal with the drains for the first week after your surgery.  The cons are that you could potentially have a fluid buildup (seroma) in the immediate postoperative period that is not adequately drained.  Having said that, it is also possible to have seroma after drains are removed. I know of no studies that say that the seroma rate is lower if drains are used.  I personally use drains and have been happy with the outcomes.  The tumescent fluid from any combined liposuction procedure as well as the antibiotic irrigation that I use, further adds to the amount of normal drainage after the procedure.  I find that the drains are very well-tolerated and they do not cause discomfort.  They are painlessly removed in the office.  When drains are not to used, most surgeons will place "quilting" sutures to close the space below the skin and potentially decrease the amount of space were fluid can accumulate. This adds more time, suture material, and can result in temporary dimpling of the skin.  

The bottom line is that either technique is appropriate. Do not let drains be a deciding factor on which surgeon you choose.  The most important factor in my opinion is to find a surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and someone you are comfortable with.  Best wishes to you.

Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

No Drain Tummy Tuck Pros and Cons

No Drian Tummy Tuck-

1. Decreased seroma rate. Which is why we used to use drains... To prevent seromas but found that seroma rates were actually decreased (9% with drains, down to 2% without drains) using the no drian technique utilizing progressive tension sutures
2. no drain site pain 
3. no drian to empty and keep a log of drain output amount.
4. no drian to be careful to make sure you don't pull out by accident 
5. no drain to pull out later
6. no drain exit site scar (even if brought out at sides there is a worse scar where ever the drains come out)
7. No drian for bacteria to track up and become a potential source for infection
8. More skin can be removed because the skin is stretched downwards with each suture and thus less chance of needing a vertical scar.

1.15-20 minutes extra in the operating room. (Makes it a little more expensive, but not more risk of anesthesia because it's a short time.
2. Very temporary dimpling to skin at progressive tension sites in some, but goes away in all by 1-2 weeks

This being said, the final results are very similar with or without drains in most cases. However, we have found that the recovery is much nicer for the patients now that we no longer use drains.  In my opinion, the extra 15-20 minutes in the operating room is worth not dealing with those drains for 1-2 weeks.  I hope this helps and best wishes. 

Luis H. Macias, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Pros and Cons of a Drain-less TT

Plastic surgeon performing tummy tucks for more than half a century years have used drains. Recently a technique has been slowly becoming more popular using Progressive Tension Sutures (quilting stitches) to attach the superficial skin/fat to the deep muscle layer below to prevent fluid accumulation that a drain would otherwise remove.

It is not fool proof (nothing is), takes a bit more time under anesthesia to place these stitches and a girdle is generally worn immediately but a drain-less Tummy Tuck seems to work well. Patients tend to like this as there is no drain care and they can shower earlier. There may be slightly more swelling, more of a chance for seroma in some but in the long run (after 1-2 months) no difference in the swelling of those with and those without drains.
On the other hand use of drains in my experience is a quicker operative time, early on prevents seroma and minimizes bruising, easy and painless to remove postoperatively, no need to wear the elastic garment/girdle until the drains come out in my practice.


Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Drains and tummy tuck

There are multiple ways you should be using to decide which surgeon should do your operation.  Drains are a very useful tool which are temporary.  Since they are not a permanent feature of your outcome, they should not be the reason you choose to find someone that does not use drains.  Look at the surgeon's outcomes, training, experience, and whether you trust them.  I personally find drains to be essential in tummy tuck.  

Gary Lawton, MD, FACS
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 135 reviews

Drainless tummy tuck

There really is no right or wrong answer.If a drain is not placed then it does not have to be removed at a later time and it is no big deal to remove a drain.

Robert Brueck, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

What are the pros and cons of a drainless tummy tuck?

   I use drains in very few procedures.  If you have a fluid collection that needs to be drained after a tummy tuck, this can compromise the incision and healing.

Kenneth Hughes, MD

Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 reviews

What are the pros and cons of a drainless tummy tuck?i

The pros for a drainless tummy tuck are:
  1. No pesky drains and collection bulbs to manage for a week or longer post-op
  2. No painful drain-holding sutures in your pubic area for as long as your drains are in
  3. No additional wound care of the drain sites after they are removed
  4. No additional scars from the drain site
  5. The ability to remove more abdominal wall skin when progressive tension sutures are used.
The cons for a drainless tummy tuck are:
  1. A theoretical increase in the risk of a fluid collection forming (most studies show this is not the case when the procedure is done properly.)
As you can see, the pros greatly outweigh the cons and that is why I personally do not use drains and many surgeons who do are switching to a drainless technique.

Mathew A. Plant, MD, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Use of the drain during and abdominoplasty is up to the judgment of the surgeon.

I no longer use drains was abdominoplasty. Drains are worst a nuisance until they were removed. The length of time a surgeon leaves them in can be highly variable.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Drainless TT

Dear NewImprovedMe, the drain in a tummy tuck is placed to take out liquid produced in the surgical area from the surgical trauma.The only PRO from not leaving a drain is comfort for the patient. CONS are many more; In order to prevent this fluid to get produced there are techniques which implies more surgical time,  which also implies more cost; if the technique don't work and you develop liquid (seroma) you will need to take it out with a syringe to aspirate this fluid. I would recommend you to talk to your plastic surgeon about this topic. Good luck.

Kelvin Eusebio, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

What are the pros and cons of a drainless tummy tuck?

Opinions differ on this from surgeon to surgeon. It largely depends on you Board Certified Plastic Surgeons' experience and preference. The advantage of a drainless abdominoplasty is not having the inconvenience of having a drain that requires daily maintenance and fluid volume recording. The disadvantage of not having a drain is the possibility that a fluid collection may still develop despite internal sutures intended to prevent seroma formation. This would then require aspiration with a needle to remove excess fluid build up.

Good Luck! 

Jarrod Daniel, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 12 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.