My plastic surgeon doesn't use drain tubes after Neck Lift/Facelift. Is that okay?

Doctor Answers 29

Drains after facelift


This is a question that cosmetic surgeons discuss regularly and you will find many different opinions. Most feel drains do help minimize seromas (fluid collections under the skin) and improve the recovery process. Some surgeons use fibrin sealants which also work well. Others just depend on dressings and pressure.  In general, however, if your surgeon is experienced with facelifts and getting excellent results, then whether or not they use drains should not be an issue.

Best of luck with your procedure-

Indianapolis Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

My plastic surgeon doesn't use drain tubes after Neck Lift/Facelift. Is that okay?

Some surgeons use them and some don't. I tend to use a drain when the entire neck is opened up, but otherwise do not. It reduces swelling and bruising. The concern about seromas I find unwarranted because they are exceedingly rare. We go years without seeing them. And in most practices the very tight dressing have been abandoned. They have actually been shown to prolong swelling. The most important thing is to find a very talented and artistic surgeon and let the doctor worry about whether drains are helpful or not.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

No drains after facelifting

I have not placed a drain in any face or neck lift in the last 2 years. My audited haematoma rate is 2%, and seromas if they happen are easily aspirated and/or self limiting. I see no benefit to placing drains at all, a haematoma needs evacuation with or without a drain in place... but they carry risks of infection and pain on removal. I suspect over time their use in facelifting will become less common place.

Dominic Bray, MBBS, FRCS
London Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 169 reviews

No drains after a facelift may be fine

There is a bit of controversy over whether drains, pressure dressings, etc. have any impact on the risks of a blood or fluid collection. Ultimately, I feel something is better than nothing, so either use a pressure dressing, or a drain with a pressure dressing. As long as your surgeon is experienced in facelifts and gets great results, I wouldn't worry about whether a drain is used or not.

Andrew Campbell, M.D.
Facial Plastic Surgeon

Andrew Campbell, MD
Milwaukee Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 26 reviews


thank you for your question.
Every surgeon has their preferences based on their surgical technique and experience.
usually, more invasive facelift and neck lift with extensive undermining and tissue manipulation require drain after surgery. A drain is not a must for A mini facelift or neck lift.
It's best to have a discussion with your surgeon ahead of time.
Best of luck.

Dhaval M. Patel, MD
Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

No drains. Fibrin glue.

Hi there. As you can see from the various answers, opinion varies widely - which probably tells you that drains cannot make that much difference. I now use a fibrin glue (Tisseel) applied to the wound bed before stitching the wounds closed, which has eliminated the need for drains. Good luck!  

William Townley, MD, FRCS(Plast)
London Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

Drains used in Necklift/Facelift

Thank you for your question.

Facelift surgery does not require use of drains.  Many surgeons do, however, place small drains for a short time after surgery, with the goal of reducing bruising.  I personally do not use drains for my facelift patients.  Instead, I take a little extra time during the operation to ensure small areas of bleeding have been carefully cauterised.  Drains do not always necessarily prevent possible bleeding complication.  I do not use drains and have pioneered The Concept Facelift, having a 0% incident rate of hematoma.  

It is important to focus more on the results of your surgeon as illustrated in their pre & post operative facelift patients.  Do you like their results, will the surgeon meet your expectations, is the facility where you are going to have your surgery performed accredited?  These might be much more important.  I do not think the use of drains or not drains would reflect the surgeons ability.

All The Best 

Drains After A Facelift

Drains after a facelift are used to remove exess fluid and swelling from the face.  One issue with drains is that they can be painful when in place and painful to remove.  In addition, drains can only work on one area of the face or neck and not work as evenly as anticipated.  

For surgeons who don't use drains, they may find that drains can create a more comfortable postoperative healing course for the patient.  I don't use drains as with my technique my patient's swelling and edema is minimized and drains are not necessary.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 162 reviews

My plastic surgeon doesn't use drain tubes after Neck Lift/Facelift. Is that okay?

Some surgeons do not use drains after facelift surgery. I do because there is always some fluid and blood drainage after a full face and neck lift. In my opinion a drain helps remove this and prevent fluid build up after surgery. However I always remove the drain the next day. Leaving drains in too long can leave a visible drain tract on the skin.

Use of drains in facelifts

This is a good question because, like many things in Plastic Surgery, the answer is more art than science.  We have 6 surgeons in our practice and most use some type of drain in facelift surgery, either a closed suction drain with a bulb, or just a simple penrose type drain.  One of our partners does not use drains at all, or rarely.All are good surgeons and get very nice results.  I usually use a closed suction drain overnight, then remove it in the morning. Conversely, in breast reduction surgery I never use a drain, but almost all of my partners use a closed suction drain that they remove in 1 or 2 days!  How is that for the "science of medicine!"  This is an issue that I would ask your surgeon his opinion and as long as he has a reasonable explanation, would leave it up to him/her.  More important to be able to feel comfortable, and communicate well with your surgeon.

Roy W. Hong, MD
Los Altos Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 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.