Help! Anxiety just thinking of drainage tubes.

I had a BBL 18 months ago. I'm happy with the results, but it left my stomach very lumpy, painful and a lot of excess skin. I've had 2 consultations for a tummy tuck and did my research. I'm very nervous about the recovery but get physically I'll when I even think of the drainage tubes. Any suggestions on calming the anxiety post surgery? Also, the Dr I planned on going to doesnt have very good reviews. I am starting from square one.

Doctor Answers 8

Help! Anxiety just thinking of drainage tubes.

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I personally do not use drains. Usually, pre-operatively an anti-anxiety medication is prescribed- which will be very helpful. Best to discuss your concerns with your Surgeon.

It's only temporary!

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The drain is just a necessary evil.  You may find a surgeon who doesn't use drains, but that comes with the risk of developing a fluid collection after surgery.  If you have that, then a needle has to be inserted to drain the fluid -- sometimes a couple of times a week. So, would you rather put up with a drain for a week or get poked with needles?  A tummy tuck is a big surgery and there are no short cuts.  

As for reviews, realize that good reviews can be purchased. A lot of bad reviews might be a bad sign though. Ask your friends, trust your gut, and make sure your surgeon is boarded by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  Good luck!

Robert S. Houser, DO
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Help! Anxiety just thinking of drainage tubes.

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The drains are a protection from forming seroma. Best you seek in person examinations and discussions with qualified surgeons to alleviate your anxiety.

Drain v. Drainless Tummy Tuck

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I do not use drains any more with this procedure and have switched from pain pumps to Exparel which is a long acting injectable pain medicine like Lidocaine or Marcaine but lasts for three days. This is injected all along the muscle and skin to provide pain relief. This is termed the Pain-less, Drainless Tummy Tuck.

If you go to a doctor who uses #drains, they usually stay in 3-5 days but may be required to remain in longer. 

So, you should know that with myself and other surgeons out there drain-less tummy tucks are an option and you can see some further information in the video attached here.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Reviews only mean so much

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I would trust your gut over online reviews. If you feel confident with a doctor and perhaps you've spoken with a former patient or two (many docs will gladly make that introduction), I would feel ok proceeding. 

As for drains, they do seem scary and yet, we have 90 year olds that are able to handle them easily. They typically aren't messy or painful, just inconvenient. 

Good luck

Robert Frank, MD
Munster Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Anxiety about drainage tubes after TT

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If you truly are starting from scratch in terms of looking for a plastic surgeon, there are some surgeons who don't use drains, so that could solve that issue.  However, if you trust the plastic surgeon you have chosen, that is probably more important than reviews, especially if you have a personal recommendation from someone.  That being said, several bad reviews can certainly be a red flag.  Back to the drain issue, I personally do use a single drain after tummy tuck and while patients do not like them, it generally only stays in, for most people, for only a week or two after surgery.  If your surgeon strongly believes it adds to your final result, a week or two of discomfort may be worth it.  An anti-anxiety drug such as Valium could help calm your postoperative anxiety as well as help to treat any muscle spasms you may have from tightening the muscle if that is to be done during your tummy tuck. Best of luck!

Jeffrey A. Sweat, MD
Sacramento Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Anxiety with drainage tubes and recovery

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If you are concerned and nervous with the idea of drains and recovery, ask your Doctor for an anti anxiety medication to take before and after the surgery. Your surgeon and staff should be able to help you learn about drainage tubes and the recovery process. You can call the nurse or staff to discuss post op care and arrange for someone (family or friend) to help with aftercare. Always pick a surgeon that makes you comfortable and confident.

Searching for a No Drain Tummy Tuck Plastic Surgeon

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There are many patients who are anxious about drains, mainly because of having to see their own blood.   However, I will tell you that my patients have often said (after they get them out) that they weren't nearly as bad as what they thought they would be.   Since the doctor you planned on going to doesn't have good reviews, I would encourage you to go to a few more consults.  Most of these consults are free of charge.   You can search for a plastic surgeon in your area who does drain less tummy tucks with infrequent need to drain seromas (fluid collections) afterwards.   This is achieved by placing sutures (stitches) from the under surface of the skin/fat flap and attaching it to the muscle wall.  Doing this closes off the space under the skin/fat flap to decrease the chance of fluid collecting.    Some doctors do this but also have a drains for a shorter period of time, which is what I do.     And others, don't place drains at all.  But then you might have to have the fluid removed with a needle, if fluid were to form.

Best Wishes!

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.