Liposuction Drainage

I have an appt scheduled in late Jan to get liposuction on my abs and flanks done, then soon after I'll be going back for my inner and outer thighs...I am past being worried about the pain (thanks to all of these informational posts) I am now concerned with the drainage.

Can someone tell me what to expect? Is there a lot of fluid? How often do you have to change the dressing?

Doctor Answers 12

Liposuction drainage.

After liposuction there usually is a significant amount of drainage through the incisions. A drain can be used for a few days in certain areas and this will help but you will not feel clean for several days after this type of surgery because you cannot prevent the drainage if the liposuction surgery was of any significant amount.

If a Doctor does liposuction only in the office and never has much drainage they probable are not doing a Liposuction Surgery that would give a significant improvement  

Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Most drainage occurs during the first 2 days

Drainage after liposuction is very normal after liposuction and is usually heaviest for the first 2 days after the procedure.  It usually stops by the 4th or 5th day.  The drainage is just extra fluid that was injected into the fat at the beginning of surgery that wasn't suctioned out during the liposuction procedure.  The drainage should be cranberry colored.  Seek medical attention if the color turns to a deep red. 

Lawrence Osman, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Drainage Following Liposuction - What to Expect

                  It’s not unusual for patients to have significant drainage following tumescent liposuction.  During this procedure large amounts of fluid are infused into the area prior to the procedure.  The majority of this fluid is removed during the actual procedure, but residual fluid is always left behind.  Much of this fluid is resorbed by the body, but inevitably some will drain through the incision site.

                  In the vast majority of patients we suture the liposuction entry sites.  The major advantage of this approach is decreased drainage from the wound.  When wounds are left open, constant drainage occurs with bloody fluid, which constantly stains the patient’s compression garment.  When wounds are sutured, this fluid is resorbed by the body.  In our experience, we’ve not seen problems when wounds are closed following tumescent liposuction and it appears to simplify after care.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Leaking Like a Sieve (Temporarily) Is Good

Liposuction involves the infusion of dilute local anesthetic solution into the areas where fat removal is planned, usually in a volume at least equal to or greater than the volume of fat removal anticipated from that same area. This solution helps to make the procedure less painful, and to diminish the potential bleeding.

Once the fat has been suctioned, there is usually some residual dilute local anesthetic solution and a small amount of blood left in the tissues. This blood-tinged fluid leaks out from the liposuction incisions for the first 48 hours or so, after the procedure, like water being wrung out of a sponge. This is beneficial, since it is desirable not to have a collection of fluid (seroma) in the space where the fat was removed. For this reason, most surgeons use compression garments to limit the ability of fluid to accumulate, and also allow the fluid to drain.

The first few days can be a bit messy. I give patients lots of absorbent pads to catch the drainage, and two sets of compression garments, so that one can be washed while the other is in use. I encourage patients to wear loose garments like sweat suits that they might be willing to discard after the recovery period, and to cover their bedding and furniture until the drainage stops.

You may feel like you're leaking like a sieve, but it will be temporary, and it's a good thing.

Athleo Louis Cambre, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Liposuction Drainage

In my experience, drainage from liposuction stops after two days. You may have to change your soaked dressings a times during your drainage period. The fluid that drains out is a combination of residual tumescent solution with a slight amount of blood.

Your surgeon can choose to stitch the holes and you will not have any drainage.

On the other hand, you may have prolonged swelling and bruising.

Ivan Thomas, MD (retired)
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Recovery after liposuction

Liposuction is a safe, popular, and effective way to contour the body. Patients should be aware of the recovery process after liposuction. Immediately after the surgery, they will experience a moderate amount of pain, swelling, and bruising. In our practice, we provide every patient with a special compression garment that helps decrease the swelling and provide support for the patient to increase their comfort. Most patients statement that the first two days after liposuction are the most uncomfortable and they can return to work shortly after that.

Immediately after liposuction, you should expect to have a small amount of pink fluid drainage from the liposuction incisions. This is completely normal and will stop in 2 to 3 days.

Pat Pazmino, MD, FACS
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 101 reviews

Lipo drainage varies depending upon the technique


Some doctors place more of the "tumescent fluid" in the area to be treated before the liposuction procedure than others. Some doctors leave the openings made to perform the surgery open and others close them. As long as the incisions are pretty small, it probably makes little difference in scarring. I prefer to "loosely close" the openings personally. I believe they heal better this way.

Depending upon the amount of fluid placed at surgery and whether or not the openings made at surgery are closed, drainage may occur over a day or several days.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Drainage is good. It means extra fluid is not staying in your tissues.

Hello Tarann, again,

Ther are several tiny incisions after liposuction, and they drip a little clear fluid when you move or stand up for about 48 hours. It's just a little messy.

I wonder why you are having the liposuction in two stages. Unless you are really, really big, liposuction of the abdomen, flanks, and inner and outer thighs is usually done all together.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

There is a lot of fluid that drains after liposuction but don't worry, it is normal

If you are getting the tumescent liposuction with microcanulas then you are getting the most effective safe procedure. There are no suturing with this technique since the holes are so small.

The anesthetic fluid drains a lot for 2 days through these little holes and can leak 1-2 quarts of fluid which is good and which you want it to leak since the swelling goes down faster with the fluid leaking out.

We put nice big absorbant pads over the areas then the compression garment on top of that. You only change the pads once a day when you take off the garment and shower the next day and replace the pads and garment with a new set which we supply.

After usually 2 days then there is no dressings or leakage to worry about and patients are back to work. It is very easy and quick so don't worry. You will be just fine. I hope you have a great experience.

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Drainage is minimal

Liposuction involves several small incisions to remove the fat. These incisions are usually closed with suture but it is common for some of the liposuction fluid to leak out around the sutures. Dressings (guaze) applied to the incision sites collects any of that drainage fluid.

Most patients change the gauze a few times a day for the first 2 days or so. Small gauze dressings are all that most patients use and the amount of fluid is usually very small. After that, drainage significantly decreases. Most of my patients do not notice any drainage after that time.

Hope this answers your question.

Sirish Maddali, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
2.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

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.