Is it normal to drain more on one side than the other?

hi i am 11 days post op TT. My left drain is basically dry... 5 cc is any, but the the right one is 40/50cc every 12 hrs .. what does this mean it was slower 3 days ago at like 25/30cc. should i be worried

Doctor Answers 7

Is it normal to drain more on one side than the other?

Hello! Thank you for your question! It is not uncommon to drain, such as what you describe, immediately after your procedure. The drainage should slowly decrease over the next few weeks, at which time, your surgeon will determine when your drains will be removed. It is common for the drains to be placed in separate locations atop your abdominal wall, with one drain usually in the more dependent position. Thus, it is common for this drain to have more output than the more superiorly located drain.  Fluid can also collect in different spaces, not being captured by the drain.  This often resolves with movement/compression, and then eventually drained in the normal fashion.

As long as the drainage appears non-bloody and a clear, serous fluid, it is expected. If tehre is a sudden increase in the drain output or change to a more blood-appearing fluid with other signs/symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention. Your description sounds normal. If there are any concerns, it is recommended to call and discuss with your surgeon. Hope that this helps! Best wishes for a wonderful result!


Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Tummy Tuck Drains Can Be Finicky

Nothing to worry about if one drain produces more than the other.  Occasionally one will get clogged or kinked or who knows what and they can stop producing.  Sometimes they pick up again in a few days.  The real issue is that you want whatever fluid is in the area to come out by any means necessary.  It really isn't worth concerning yourself with.
Good Luck, and I hope you get a Fabulous result!

Thomas P. Sterry, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Drainage after tummy tuck.

It is very common for one side to drain more than the other. This could be due to many factors. The drains might be in slightly different locations underneath your skin.  It is also possible that your positioning as caused one drain to accumulate more than another.  Lastly, one drain might be functioning better than the other due to debris that might be slightly occluding the drain.  Do not worry about it. Keep an accurate log of the output and make sure that your surgeon is aware.  At 11 days post op, your drainage output should be decreasing.

Erik Miles, MD, FACS
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Drains After Tummy Tuck

It can absolutely be normal.  Most surgeons place one drain extending up high and the other low, across the abdominal wall.  Depending on your position, one drain may drain more than the other. 

Rarely, however, the mismatch in drain output can be abnormal.  If you have bright red, abdundant bleeding from one side compared to the other, make sure there are no skin changes such as purple/black skin, skin stretched tight, excessive swelling, etc.  Ask your surgeon or the surgeon's nurse to be sure.

Emily J. Kirby, MD
Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Drain fluid

It is completely normal the difference on amount of fluid among drains.
get removed the one that is not producing fluid and let the other in place until is time to get it removed. 
Be encouraged. 
Dr. Cardenas

Drainage after a tummy tuck

Each side of a tummy tuck will drain differently, so that is perfectly normal. It sounds like your total amounts are low so that is encouraging.  Keep your surgeon advised of the total drainage so you can have your drains removed when they are ready. The drain technique is the most common, but there is a no drain technique that we also use (video below).  Best of luck, sounds like your recovery is going well.

Francisco Canales, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Drains and tummy tuck

When in doubt always,always check with your doctor first.It is common for one drain to be draining more or less than the other and also to vary from day to day. 

Robert Savage, MD (retired)
Wellesley Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 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.