Is It Normal for Drain to Pull out Large Blood Clots During Tummy Tuck Recovery?

I am 5 days PO and I have notice large blood clots drain into my tube. They are so big that I can not get them out. I really am surprise that the drain has pull them. Should I be alarm?

Doctor Answers 13

I am 5 days PO and I have noticed large blood clots drain into my drainage tube.

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It can be normal to see blood clots during the first week after a tummy tuck. This may indicate some bleeding that occurred after surgery and is being collected by the tube. I would make sure that your plastic surgeon is aware of the drainage. If the clots block the drain, you may develop a collection of blood or fluid under your abdominal tissue. If the clots continue to drain along with bright red blood, this indicates that you may have active bleeding. Again, your plastic surgeon will be able to advise the proper course of treatment.

Drains and Tummy Tucks

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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.
It is normal for blood clots to come out into bulb.  You should encourage any blood clots you see in the tube to come into the bulb by 'milking' them in that direction. this keeps the drain free to flow. 
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Drains after mommy makeover

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What you are describing happens to most patients.  They are usually a combination of blood and tissue that the drain is trying to expel.  Ask your plastic surgeon how to strip the drains,  and this will help to push them out into the bulb at the end. I hope this helps you.

Kindest regards,

Neil J. Zemmel

Clots in drain are normal

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Thanks for your question. Clots are definitely normal. As long as the output is not going up and your abdomen has a normal contour then it is likely okay. Let your surgeon take a look if you are concerned. Best of Luck!

M. Scott Haydon, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Blood clots in drains

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It is very common for there to be large clots in the drains in the first few days post-op from a tummy tuck.  The key is to make sure that the overall output is not too high and that you are keeping your surgeon updated on the output.  If all else is well, I would not be concerned.

Clots forming in drains after tummy tucks

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Hello. After a tummy tuck it is common to have clots in your drains. The only possible problem with clots is that they can occlude the tubing making the drains ineffective. Ask your doctor how to clean the tubing if they are not functioning correctly. With a new method of doing tummy tucks drains are usually left for five to seven days instead of the usual ten to fifteen days and should drain less but it is not uncommon for clots to form.

Jaime Perez, MD
Mommy Makeover Specialist
Plastic Surgery Center of Tampa

Jaime Perez, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Large Blood Clots from Drains

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It is quite common for there to be blood in the drains, and typically early on it is clotted blood. So long as the drain is still fuctioning, there is no concern. If you don't know how to "strip and seal" the drain tubes, call your surgeon for instructions. 

Best wishes. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Clots in Drain after Tummy Tuck

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Time to time large clots can travel through the drain.  This is not a problem usually.  Make your surgeon aware of your concerns.

Dr. ES

Concern regarding clots of blood coming through drain following a tummy tuck

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It is very common to see clotted blood coming through the drains following a tummy tuck. The only real significant issue that they can present is that occasionally they can cause occlusion of the tubing, preventing fluid from draining. This can usually be remedied by stripping the tubing which your doctor can explain to you and show you.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Not unusual to have blood clots in the drainage tube following an abdominoplasty

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Do not be surprised if you see clotted blood in the drainage tube.  This is perfectly normal.  It helps to milk the tube to help get the clot out of the tube an into the bulb.  You may need to call your plastic surgeons office for advice on how to perform this milking procedure.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 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.