Should I Use a Surgical Drain After Tumescent Lipo?

My doctor suggested that we use a surgical drain to help with the fluid post-op. I have done some research on these and from my understanding they are not generally used for this procedure (which he told me- but he has started using them and said its hard to turn back as he finds them to be much better). It is absolutely my decision whether I want it or not. He said it would help minimize a "mess" and can help get a better/flatter result.

Doctor Answers 15

We Usually Do Not Use Drains With Tumescent Liposuction

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In the vast majority of patients we don’t use drains when performing tumescent liposuction.  Under these circumstances, we suture wounds and allow the body to resorb the tumescent fluid.  When this approach is utilized there doesn’t appear to be an increased incidence of swelling or seroma formation.  Patients experience a normal post-operative course with excellent surgical results.

Drain Not Needed for Liposuction

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Drains are not required for liposuction, nor are leaving wounds open for drainage necessary or desired in many cases. Open Incisions vs Closed for Liposuction is highly variable based on surgeon's preference and either way way in good hands you get a satisfactory result. I differ however in some of the recommendations below. Most Board Certified Plastic Surgeons close liposuction incisions regardless of the type of liposuction used (Smart Lipo, Ultrasonic liposuction, conventional or PAL - power assisted liposuction. In my more than 2 decades of practice and trying each of these devices, I have not found any prolonged recovery by closing incisions. On the contrary I feel that I have prevented the mess and hassle to the patient. The ultimate scar has a better chance of being smaller if sutured based on my more than a quarter of century of performing liposuction and having used both techniques.

Tumescent Lipo

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We have tried using drains and they do make a difference for the better and I recommend them, especially for the larger cases. Thank you for your question and good luck with everything.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Liposuction and use of drain?

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Thank you for the question.

Generally,  drains are not used/necessary for liposuction procedures. Also, my perception does not have to be a “mess” depending on the closure of suture lines. If a open technique is used (suture lines are left open)  then significant drainage from the suture lines should be expected (" mess”). If  the suture lines are close there will be a lot less drainage to be concerned about.

I hope this helps.

Drains and Liposuction

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Drains are not used with liposuction unless some other procedure is performed at the same time that requires a drain tube to be placed.

David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Tumescent Liposuction and drains

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Usually drains are not necessary when doing tumescent liposuction.  However, if your surgeon has recommended the use of drains he or she may have a good reason and I would suggest you follow their advice.

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Drains are usually not used in liposuction

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Drains are usually not used in liposuction but if your surgeon finds the need for it, then maybe you would get more fluid accumulation than is normally expected. The advantage of drains is that they may allow excess fluid to drain but the disadvantage is that it may allow an entry for bacteria and infection. Normal tumescent liposuction does not require drains to be inserted.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Do I need a drain after tumescent liposuction?

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I could not imagine how one would place a drain after tumescent liposuction unles an additional procedure was performed (abdominoplasty, thigh lift etc.)  Nevertheless, trust your surgeon to do what is right in your case.

Neal Goldberg, MD
Westchester Plastic Surgeon

I use drains after more aggressive liposuction cases.

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I use drains after more aggressive liposuction cases.

Standard, small area liposuction does not require drains, but more aggressive liposuction can be higher risk for seromas (fluid build-up under the skin surface) which may need to be drained later.

Even though it may be "your choice" whether to use the drains or not, it is usually better to follow the preference of your surgeon.  You chose your surgeon because you trust him/her  and are confident in their skills.  Now trust their opinion as well.

When I use drains on my high definition liposuction cases the small tube stays in place for 3-7 days depending on the amount of drainage and then it slips out easily.  Within 2-3 days you can't tell the difference between the incisions that were sutured closed and the incisions where the drains exited through the skin.

Richard H. Fryer, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 298 reviews

Drains after liposuction?

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I have never used a drain after any liposuction procedure, nor do I see the need for one. There shouldn't be any "cavity" for a drain to even sit in after liposuction. 

Is your doctor certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery? (NOT "cosmetic" surgery).  If not, you might consider having a consultation with a surgeon who IS a real plastic surgeon and get his/her opinion.

Carmen Kavali, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 46 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.