Post Tummy Tuck Revision

I had a FTT 7/2010. I underwent a revision on 6/10/11. My drains were removed for the original surgery 8 days post op. At which time they were putting out 35-40cc's a piece. I had a seroma after they were removed. Shortly after the PS said it was fine I developed an abscess that was around 5 cm above where the seroma had been. Now I have one drain in. It puts out less than 20cc in 24 hours. I'm nervous to get it out and don't want another seroma. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Doctor Answers 5

30 cc the usual number to remove the drain

I believe that most surgeons use 30 cc over 24 hours as a safe number to remove drains. It seems that the body can handle that amount of fluid. 20 cc in 24 hours should be safe. After the drain is removed, try to limit your activity and make sure you wear compression. That should help.

Good Luckl!

Vacaville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Drain removal post tummy tuck revision

Every surgeon has different criteria for drain removal. I advise my patients to leave their drains in until the output is below 20cc’s in a 24 hour period to avoid complications, such as seromas. You also do not want to keep in the drains for too long to avoid any chances of infection and irritation. Once the drains are removed, avoidance of strenuous activity is important. Wear the abdominal binder or compression garment to help minimize swelling and aid in the healing process.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,487 reviews

Abdominoplasty San Diego

At your original tummy tuck, be aware that bacteria which caused your abscess was present when your drain was producing 35-40cc per day eight days after your procedure.  The seroma which developed was actually an infected seroma, or, an abscess that was drained by your indwelling suction drain (and became florid once this avenue of drainage was removed).  In any case, the purpose of a suction drain is to remove fluid that infiltrates the wound during the early period of healing.  Evacuation of this serum and plasma allows overlying skin to adhere to the underlying abdominal wall.  Once this adherence becomes more solid and the inflammatory phase of healing has passed, drain output diminishes. 

Timing of drain removal is by intuition, and should be determined by the operating surgeon (and patient) based on the size of the drained wound, factors influencing healing, character of the drainage, volume of drainage, and trend of volume drained over time.  Discuss these elements with your surgeon to learn his or her reasoning for timing of drain removal, so you can understand, and be re-assured.

Steve Laverson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Drains Themselves Cause Some Serous Drainage

The presence of a drain leads to enough irritation of the adjacent tissue that it causes some degree of serous drainage simply by being in place.  If your drain is putting out less than 20cc/24hrs., it should be safe to remove it at this time.  A seroma is always possible, but it would be very unusual to occur in your situation without additional cause.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Drain removal after TT

It is understandable that you would be concerned about removing your abdominal drain too early in view of your past experience.  Less than 30 cc in a 24 hour period is about what most surgeons look for so you should be all right.  Limit your activity for a few days and wear your compression garment.   Think positively. 

Lori H. Saltz, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 28 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.