I'm wonder why some of you guys like to use drain on their procedure and others not. Which is the benefit?

Doctor Answers 5

Tummy tuck - to drain or not to drain

Thank you for asking about your tummy tuck.
  • I use drains as added insurance in avoiding seromas.
  • I have done tummy tucks with and without drains, with and without quilting sutures.
  • Without drains, I had several patients return with small seromas -
  • They healed well but it was more of a nuisance for them than if they had had drains.
  • With quilting sutures, I can often remove drains in a day or two.
  • The real problem with drain removal is that removing them hurts a lot. 
  • But local anesthetic injected into the drain site makes it painless.
  • Ever since I started doing this, no one complains about their drains. .
Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Why a drain?

The are always discrepancies between why some surgeons do one thing and not another. That's why they are called medical opinions and surgeons debate their personal rationales all the time. Drains are a common technique that surgeons disagree about. Drains are used to remove fluid after a procedure. Without a drain, the fluid can collect resulting in a seroma. A seroma may lead to infection or a long-term collection which may require additional surgery. In a tummy tuck, I prefer at least one drain in the lower abdomen. It is removed after 5-7 days and prevents fluid accumulation. To prevent a drain site, I simply bring the drain out the existing incision which eliminates additional scars and make it nearly pain free to remove. Suture techniques can help control fluid buildup, but at the end of the day the downside of drains is minimal and certainly beat having to come in to the office twice a week or more for needle aspirations!

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Drains - what do they do?

Contrary to popular belief, drains are not used to remove blood or prevent bleeding or a hematoma. They are used to prevent a seroma, or fluid collection. Some surgeries, like tummy tucks, have a high risk of seroma if drains and progressive tension sutures are not used. Other surgeries, like breast augmentation, usually don't need them. Each plastic surgeon is different on whether they use drains. For example, I always drain my facelifts overnight, but some docs don't. The trend toward using progressive tension sutures in tummy tucks and limiting drain use is an excellent trend in our field. I hope this helps!

Anthony Youn, MD, FACS
Detroit Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

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I'm wonder why some of you guys like to use drain on their procedure and others not. Which is the benefit?

Placement of a drainage system is dependent upon the area of surgery. In Full TTs best to use drains vs in BBLs more often than not I use drains (but that is my decide at the tome of surgery). In breast implants rarely use drains.. Best to use a boarded PS which uses them more often than not..

I'm wonder why some of you guys like to use drain on their procedure and others not. Which is the benefit?

Thank you for your question regarding the use of surgical drains following tummy tuck.  The purpose of drains following tummy tucks, in the past, was to reduce to the potential of seroma (collection of fluid) beneath the skin following surgery.  There are newer techniques, particularly progression tension sutures or the Avelar technique depending on whether liposuction is required with the procedure that both eliminate the need for surgical drains. In my experience, these techniques have reduced seromas and provided faster recovery for my patients. Most of my patients seem to be very happy not to have surgical drains to contend with following surgery. Many surgeons who use drains may not be experienced in these other techniques. Best of luck to you. 

Steven L. Ringler, MD, FACS
Grand Rapids Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

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