Can you get a tummy tuck without the drains?

Doctor Answers 20

Can you get a tummy tuck without the drains?

Thank you for your excellent question.  Some plastic surgeons do perform drainless tummy tucks and these work best in patients with little excess skin and adipose tissue and those not receiving liposuction as an adjunct procedure.  Hope this helps.


Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Can you get a tummy tuck without the drains?

Yes, it is certainly possible to undergo tummy tuck surgery without the use of drains.  The "no drain" tummy tuck surgery has become more frequently performed as use of progressive tension sutures (using sutures to close off the space between the abdominal wall skin and the underlying muscle) has increased in popularity.

Keep in mind, that careful selection of your plastic surgeon will be the most important decision you make. I would not suggest that you select a plastic surgeon based on the criteria of: drains or no drains technique utilized.  Instead, I would make sure that your selected plastic surgeon is a board-certified plastic surgeon who can demonstrate lots of examples of achieving the types of outcomes you will be pleased with. 
I hope this, and the attached link (dedicated to tummy tuck surgery concerns), helps.  Best wishes

No Drain Tummy Tuck

Thank you for your question. Yes, you can get whats called a no drain Tummy Tuck/Abdominoplasty. 

Surgical drains are awkward, irritating and very uncomfortable. They are always a worrisome part of abdominoplasty surgery for patients and produces lots of anxiety in patients. One reason that surgical drains are such a nuisance is that they make normal, everyday activities extremely difficult to perform such as: One reason that surgical drains are such a nuisance is that they make normal, everyday activities extremely difficult to perform such as: getting dressed, walking and showering. This can result into a longer recovery process. Another thing that patients worry about is the pain associated with pulling the drainage tubes out; drains are generally used in surgery to stop fluid from accumulating between tissue planes.

During a tummy tuck surgery, there is space between the abdominal wall and the overlying fat and skin (the abdominal flap). The body will do what it usually does during the healing process, produce fluid, if nothing is done to close this space. Because there is nothing to confine the fluid from accumulating, a seroma can develop in this space. In other words, the tissue produces fluid more quickly than it can reabsorb.

Negative suction drains are placed in spaces like this to get rid of the fluid and create suction between the tissue planes. There is a way, however, to eliminate this space without using uncomfortable drainage tubes. Plastic surgeons utilizes progressive tension sutures inside the tissues to close off the space and relieve tension on the last surgical closure. This results into less pain, less discomfort and less tension. Also, there will be better scarring with potentially minimizes infection risk.

We have successfully used progressive tension sutures during abdominoplasty instead of surgical drains, with a lower seroma rate than is generally thought to occur with tummy tucks and drains. With this method, the seroma rate is close to zero and you cannot beat that approach. Best of luck!

Dhaval M. Patel 

Double board certified 

Plastic surgeon 

Hoffman Estates 

Barrington 

Oakbrook 

Chicago 

Dhaval M. Patel, MD
Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 79 reviews

Depends on what your surgeon prefers and your body

This depends on your surgeon and your body. Many surgeons don’t normally put drains in these days because of the placement of progressive tension sutures, but sometimes, they are still used as a precautionary measure for a patient’s safety. You should discuss your preference with y our surgeon during your consultation.

Drainless Tummy Tuck

You most certainly can get a tummy tuck without the need for postoperative drains. This technique, referred to as the drainless tummy tuck, has been our approach for over 5 years now. It is an excellent option for most (although not all) patients.
For additional information about the drainless tummy tuck please see the web link below.
For the best results seek the consultation of a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. They have a website listing all the certified plastic surgeons. Members of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery will all be board certified in plastic surgery and have demonstrated an interest and special skill in cosmetic plastic surgery as well.

Alexander G. Nein, MD, MS, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Tummy tuck without drains

There is such a thing as a drainless tummy tuck where surgeons use suturing techniques to try to close off any potential space beneath the skin and prevent fluid from accumulating. Some surgeons even advocate a "No pain, no drain" technique where in addition a long acting local anesthetic is placed at the time of surgery to prevent post-operative pain. There are many ways to approach a problem in plastic surgery. It is important you find a board certified plastic surgeon who has experience and success with a certain technique to help determine if that technique is right for you. 

Salem Samra, MD
Middletown Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Why the drainless tummy tuck is not always the best approach

The drainless tummy tuck is based on a technique called progressive tension sutures (PTS) which close off the space under the skin and minimize fluid buildup. I have been using the PTS technique for almost 20 years, and while I found that the fluid buildup is much less, it is not zero especially when the fat layer is thinned. For that reason I still use drains with the PTS tummy tuck but find that the drains can usually be removed within a few days.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Can you get a tummy tuck without the drains?

Some excellent plastic surgeons use drains, some use internal quilting sutures, and some use both. Whether a surgeon uses drains or not should be one of the least important factors in choosing the surgeon. The choice of drains or no drains should depend on the extent of the procedure and the surgeon’s opinion based on his or her experience. Good results have been obtained both with and without drains. The length of the recovery and the extent of swelling are not diminished in procedures where no drains are used.

What is far more important is the choice of the surgeon. I would suggest you find a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and ideally a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) that you trust and are comfortable with. You should discuss your concerns with that surgeon in person. While a second or third opinion may be worthwhile, continuing to pursue consultations until you get the answers that you think that you want to hear may not necessarily be in your best interest. If you are ambivalent, don’t do the procedure.

Robert Singer, MD FACS

La Jolla, California

Robert Singer, MD
La Jolla Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

TT without drains

It is certainly possible to do a tummy tuck without drains.  Using quilting or progressive retention sutures can help eliminate the need for drains.  Ask your surgeon about his/her particular technique

Samir S. Rao, MD
Chevy Chase Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Can you get a tummy tuck without drains?

     Drains are probably not needed for most tummy tuck procedures provided that "quilting sutures" are used in the wound closure.  Although I used to routinely use drains, I have, for several years, used the quilting suture technique and have avoided drains.  However, if liposuction is also done with the tummy tuck,  drains may be recommended.  Discuss this with your Board certified plastic surgeon and good luck.

John Zavell, MD, FACS
Toledo Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

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