How Long Should I Expect to Have Surgical Drains After Mommy Makeover Surgery?

I am having breast augmentation, a tummy tuck, and liposuction.

Doctor Answers 36

Typically-- 7-14 Days

Almost every patient who undergoes a mommy makeover gets to experience the ‘joy’ of drains.Surgical drains are used to siphon off excess blood and fluid from the operative area.Most often they are used with tummy tucks, much less frequently for breast surgery.On the abdomen we have to lift the skin and fat up off of the muscles in order to shift them down and cut away the excess.This creates potential space. Blood and fluid tend to seep from the raw surface area of the flap, and if this is not drained out (with the surgical drain), it can build up, put pressure on the incisions and create would healing problems.That fluid pocket is called a seroma, and seroma formation is a bothersome complication that can be hard to treat.They are much more likely if drains are not placed or are removed too soon.Usually drainage from the drains gradually tapers off as healing progresses after surgery, and typically by 7-14 days post-op the drainage has reduced to the point that your body can just absorb any excess fluid.They key is how much drainage is coming out daily from the drain.Usually if it is less than 25cc in 24 hours it is safe to remove the drains.Everybody is a little different on how long it takes to get down to a low enough level for drain removal (some people just make more fluid than others). Don’t be alarmed if on you the drain has to stay a little longer.Certainly it is easier to deal with the drain in a little longer than it is to deal with a seroma.

Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Drains after mommy makeover

It depends on where they are and what exactly was done, but most drains come out in 1-2 weeks. Good luck!

Bryan Correa, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Drains and Tummy Tucks

Thank you for your post. Whenever there is a potential space in your body, your body tends to fill that space with serous fluid (the yellow type of fluid that also comes out of a 'weeping wound'. This is similar to when you get a blister: the layers of skin separate and fluid is deposited in to the space. In a tummy tuck, the space is in between the skin/fat layer and the muscle layer. Most surgeons will place a drain to remove this fluid while your body is secreting it until the fat layer grows back together with the muscle layer. At that point, no more fluid is secreted into the area, because there is no more space for fluid. The length of time that this takes varies from patient to patient. Some patients heal much faster, thus the layers seal together much faster. Also, the more twisting motion you have in your belly area, the slower the two layers grow back together because they are moving in relation to each other. The fluid coming through the drain can be initially dark red, and eventually clears to pink then yellow. This is because it takes just a little bit of blood to make the fluid dark red. Also, initially, there can be a large amount of fluid (few hundred cc's in the first day is not out of the range of normal) and this should slow down substantially over next few days. Once the fluid slows down to the amount that your surgeon is comfortable with (usually 25-50 cc in 24 hours) then they will be pulled. There is minimal discomfort in pulling the drain in most patients.
More recently, 'drain free' surgery has become more popular. Fat layer is sutured down to the muscle layer starting at the ribs and progressively down to the lower incision. This makes the space for the fluid to collect much smaller, and in many patients can have surgery without drains. However, I have seen multiple patients come from other surgeons because they developed a seroma despite the suturing of the tissue. This is not the surgeon's fault, but some patients just do not heal fast enough or put out too much fluid for the body to absorb.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Drains Are Used Following a Tummy Tuck & are Usually Left in Place for 7-14 Days Following Surgery

Drains are frequently used in the post-operative period in mommy makeover patients to minimize the potential for seroma formation. Drains are typically not used with breast surgery, but are used after abdominoplasty. Drains are usually left in place for 7 to 14 days following surgery. They are usually removed when drainage drops below 25cc per 24 hours.
The management of surgical drainage varies from patient to patient. Each patient has unique surgical anatomy and surgical procedures are modified for each individual patient for these reasons. In addition each surgeon has his own drain protocols.
In some patients, drainage may persist for longer periods of time, especially if patients are physically active. Patients are usually eager to get their drains removed and sometimes pressure their surgeon to remove them. When drains are removed to early, there may be an increased complication rate. This might result in seroma formations with resultant infection and wound breakdown. Under these circumstances seromas may require multiple aspirations or replacement of the drain. Although drains seem to be a major nuisance, they serve as a very important function in most mommy makeover patients.

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

Mommy Makeover Drains from the Tummy Tuck Removed Usually by Day 3

Thank you for your question. Drains are rarely used in the Breast after Breast Augmnetation or Breast Lift.

Typically drains are used after the Tummy Tuck Portion of the Mommy Makeover. Most plastic Surgeons leave drains in until less than 25 cc (less than an ounce) of fluid comes out of each drain in a 24 hour period.

In some people this is one day and others can take longer if there is a lot of fluid coming out. An average is about 3 days.

Highly variable

Drains are controversial, both in their use and duration of use. Surgeons have very specific preferences and you should check with yours.

Leland Deane, MD
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

How long should I expect to have surgical drains after Mommy Make Over surgery?

Very often in the performance of a Mommy Make Over drains are placed after the tummy tuck component has been performed. Most often these drains are able to be removed in the first two weeks. You can help hasten the time of removal by restricting activity that causes motion in your core for the first two weeks. Back and forth shifting of the skin and fat layer will prevent adherence of this layer with the underlying muscle layer. Once these two layers are melded together there is no space for fluid collection and the drains can be removed.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 112 reviews

Mommy Makeover Drain Removal timing

#TummyTuckDrains timing for removal varies from surgeon to surgeon following a #MommyMakeover surgery. One to two weeks is the usual time for my patients for drains to be left in place and are generally removed when they drain less than 30 cc per 24 hours. If a lot of liposuction is done at the same time, it may take a bit longer.

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

Drains following mommy makeover

Thank you for your question.  Drains are generally removed within 10 days following surgery. Some patients are able to have them removed earlier.  The level of activity can contribute to increased drainage and prolong the number of days you are required to keep your drains.  Follow your surgeon's advice regarding activity level and strenuous activity.

Best of luck,

Christopher J. Morea, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 187 reviews

Drains after mommy makeover

The use of drains, and time that they are left in after surgery, varies depending on the surgeon.  Some plastic surgeons leave drains in for a certain length of time, others remove them when they are draining a certain amount of fluid, and others avoid routine drain use altogether.  I have not used drains for the majority of my breast operations for years, and have decreased their use in many of my tummy tuck patients (depending on the extend of surgery etc). I have not seen an increase in complications in my patients as I have decreased the routine use of drains.  However, I would recommend speaking to your plastic surgeon about their practices.

William Andrade, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 62 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.