Drains vs no drains?

So I've noticed half surgeons do drains and half don't. What's the difference and why do some do both.

Doctor Answers 8

Breast Reduction with No Drains

Thank you for your question.  Each surgeon will likely vary on their inclination and indication on when/if to use drains.  Drains are placed during a surgery when a notable amount of tissue is removed and the remaining “dead space” would otherwise be filled with fluid collection and/or blood.  Placing drains in these situations allow for continuous and immediate evacuation of potential accumulations of fluid.  As a board certified plastic surgeon who performs hundreds of breast and body procedures each year, I usually do not place drains for breast reductions, but often use them for tummy tucks.  Regardless of the use of drains, the importance of finding an experienced board certified plastic surgeon to perform your procedure is the highest priority when selecting your surgeon.  


Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 144 reviews

Drains vs no drains?

In almost all cases, drains are needed in breast reduction and there are many surgery articles that support not using drains. 

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

Drains vs no drains?

You will get mixed answers to this question

I believe in drains for most of my patients.

The purpose of the drain is to remove any blood  that remains in the pocket after surgery

Many plastic surgeones believe that blood can predispose to infection and capsular contracture  around implants. Others believe that  drains may increase the risk of infection

Hilton Becker, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

To drain or not to drain

Traditionally, almost all breast reductions were done with drains.  In the last 20 or 30 years, the use of drains for reductions has decreased.  Where your surgeon falls probably depends on his/her age and experience.  I tend to use drains in the largest of breast reductions, especially when remove a lot of tissue from near the armpit.  The decision is made during surgery.  Your experience with a reduction can be just as good with or without drains.  Trust your surgeon to make the best choice for you.  Most women are very glad they had reductions.  I hope you will be one of them. 

James D. Frost, MD
Pensacola Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Scarless breast reduction

if I'm not mistaken you ask this question regarding breast reduction's. Our preferred method, although it's not for everyone, is the Scarless, or liposuction only procedure. as this is only liposuction with no incisions or undermining of skin drains are not used. 

Sherwood Baxt, MD
Paramus Plastic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Breast reduction: drains vs no drains?

Thank you for the question and congratulations on your decision to proceed with breast reduction surgery; it is one of the most patient pleasing operations we perform.



The use of drains  for breast reduction surgery is surgeon  dependent (not “mandatory”). Drains are usually used to evacuate fluid (prevent fluid accumulation).



 Whether or not a plastic surgeon uses drains should not be a factor when it comes to plastic surgeon selection.  Key will be selection of a board-certified plastic surgeon who can demonstrate significant  experience in shaping the types of outcomes you will be pleased with. Best wishes with your upcoming surgery.

Drain or no drain? Tummy tuck? Breast?

I suspect you are talking about a tummy tuck

Your surgeon is probably going to quilt the tummy. This means sewing down the abdominal wall rather than just letting it stick down on its own. Quilting diminishes the risk of fluid collection so many surgeons no longer leave drains.

While I favor quilting as well, I do favor leaving a drain. If fluid were to accumulate it could lead to infection, so I think of a drain as an emergency relief valve. 

If your post is about breast surgery-- It is far less likely that breast lifts or reductions will trap fluid so many , myself included, do not leave drains. 

When in doubt your PS about his or her preference.

Best wishes.

Adam Tattelbaum, MD
Washington DC Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 90 reviews

Drains vs no drains

Drains are used to prevent a complication of seroma from occurring. The raw tissue surfaces created by the surgery will ooze fluid similar to a skin scrape until they seal. This fluid will accumulate in the space created by the surgical procedure. I find that without drains there is always some fluid accumulation particulary laterally in the breast. Often it is minimal and not a problem but in some it can be painful and needs to be drained with a needle in the office. I use drains selectively in my patients. With larger brest reductions I stil prefer to use them but in smaller reductions I typically don't.

Charles T. Slack, MD
Mckinney Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 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.