After Drain Tubes Are Removed, How Long Does It Normally Take for the All the Fluid to Evaporate?

It is one month and 7 days post op tummy tuck. 10/2/12 drain tubes was removed. I am so tight with fluid, even my groin area is puffy. How long does will it take for fluid to evaporate in body?

Doctor Answers 4

Fluid Collection After Removal of Drain Tubes

Thank you for the question. Although it is very difficult to give an accurate opinion without the aid of pictures and/or an in-person exam, this does not sound like the normal progression after an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). The fluid in the body does not evaporate. Typically the drains are removed after the amount of fluid is low enough that the body will able to handle the excess fluid (lymph) just as before the surgery.

After surgery one swells from the inflammation produced as a response to the surgical insult and the also from the severed lymphatics. In time the lymphatics repair themselves and begin to drain excess fluid from the area. During this time the inflammatory response of the body to the trauma of surgery also begins to subside. These events are noticed as a decrease in the swelling of the abdomen. After the drains are removed swelling may persist, however swelling that is tense and/or progressive may be the signal of a fluid collection known as a seroma. These fluid collections need to be drained and at times a drain must be reinserted to resolve the problem.

I would advise that you see your plastic surgeon as soon as possible so that they may examine you in person and determine the best course of action. 

I hope this helps. Best of luck.

Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Fluid post TT

Dear WOB,


It sounds like you should see your surgeon. It is important to rule out any fluid collections such as seromas or hematomas. Hopefully you just have normal swelling or edema post operatively. The only way to know for sure is to be examined by your surgeon or another physician. If you do have a collection, it is important for it to be treated ASAP. 


Normal tissue swelling can last months although most of it usually resolves within 6 weeks. 


Best of luck,

 Asif Pirani, MD, FRCS(C) 

Asif Pirani, MD, FRCS(C)
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Swelling after tummy tuck

Swelling after a tummy tuck (or any body contouring procedure) occurs it two ways.  First, with any surgery, the body responds to the "trauma" with inflammation.  This is the healing process.  This inflammation leads to fluid collection within the cells/tissues of the body.  As the inflammation decreases with the process of healing, the excess fluid decreases and swelling goes down.  The other "swelling" that can occur is due to the presence of spaces between the tissues after surgery.  Fluid collects in these areas and that is the fluid that drains help remove.  The drains are usually removed once the fluid in these areas has decreased to the point that the body can remove them on its own.  If you are still having a lot of swelling and feel "tight", you should see your surgeon as it is possible that more fluid collected in those spaces and will need to be removed.  Good luck!

Naveen Setty, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

How Long Does It Normally Take for the All the Fluid to Evaporate?

The fluid doesn't evaporate, it is absorbed. We take the drains out when it is likely that the body can absorb the fluid as fast as it is made. The educated guess is not always correct. 

If your abdomen feels tight with fluid, a call to  your surgeon followed by an office visit is in order. Any fluid collection may well need to be aspirated, and no on-line consultant can determine that for you.

Thanks for your question, and best wishes. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 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.