I Had a Tummy Tuck Procedure Done 6 Week Ago. Should I Still Have my Drains In?

I have had several issues, one of which is particularly concerning. I drained more than normal throughout the entire process but my left drain was removed on week 4 when I was down to 40cc for two days. After removal of the left drain my right drain has been draining over 100cc since then. I've complained since the beginning of increased pain on this side but doc doesn't seem too concerned. Also, he can't give me an explanation as to why its doing this. I just want answers!! Is this normal?!

Doctor Answers 5

Prolonged drainage from Tummy Tuck Drains

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Drainage for more than 100 cc a day for more than 6 weeks is very concerning.  Your surgeon is likely reluctant to remove it because he/she does not want that fluid building up inside you.  I think the next step if this does not resolve soon is to consider having your surgeon inject a medicine to scar down the pocket and stop the drainage.  I would also consider having him or her culture the drain output to make sure there is not an infection that is causing this.  Good luck.

Should I Still Have my Drains In?

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It is unusual to have drains in this long, but if you are still draining 100 cc a day I can understand your surgeon's reluctance to remove it. When patients do drain more than is usual the surgeon does not get to look inside and see the cause, so I would not be surprised that your's can't give an explanation. 

At some point, hopefully soon, the drainage will stop, the drain will be removed despite >30 cc a day of drainage, or it will stop functioning or fall out on its own. Then, either the drainage will stop, or it will recur requiring some intervention, usually aspiration. 

Sometimes it is useful to inject a "sclerosing" agent, such as betadine, tetracycline, or alcohol to try to slow the fluid production down. Discuss this with your surgeon. 

All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck drains should be days not weeks

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No one can give you specific advice without seeing you personally and knowing more details, but drains in for weeks after a tummy tuck is not expected. At some point, perhaps soon, you may need to consider an additional procedure such as the use of progressive tension sutures to close off the space.

Concerns about High Drain Output after Tummy Tuck Surgery?

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I'm sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced after tummy tuck surgery. Although your frustration is understandable, you should be aware that your surgeon probably does not know why one drain is  draining as much as it is. In other words, if you are  not receiving an explanation it is probably because the cause of the unusually high drain output is not known.

 At some point, if the drain output does not decrease on its own, your plastic surgeon will need to make a decision whether to remove the drain and see if your body will absorb the serous fluid being produced or use a “sclerosing agent” to try and close off the space between the abdominal wall muscle and the overlying tissues.

 I would suggest that you continue to follow up closely with your plastic surgeon understanding that  he is likely as concerned as you are and is not withholding any explanations.

Best wishes;  hopefully, you will be very pleased with the long-term outcome of the procedure.

Drains are seldom necessary for more than a few days after abdominoplasty if used at all.

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Six weeks of drainage through a surgically placed drain is most unusual. I personally only use drains occasionally and only then for a few days.

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