What is the Drain Free Method for a Mommy Makeover and What Are the Benefits??

What is the Drain Free Method for a Mommy Makeover and What Are the Benefits??

Doctor Answers 9

Mommy Makeover without drains

Drain free mommy makeover is the newest way of performing this operation without the inconvenience of having to have drains after surgery. One of the biggest problems after the tummy tuck portion of the mommy makeover is the development of a seroma. A seroma is a collection of fluid which occurs in a tummy tuck because the open area associated with this procedure. To prevent the collection of fluid, called a seroma, drains are left in place after surgery to collect the excess fluid. When drains are used, they often need to stay in place for several days to weeks. This is very inconvenient. 

With the drain free technique, the open area is sutured close with sutures called quilting stitches. Without an open area  excess tissue fluid has no where to collect. This actually prevents seromas from occurring so drains are not necessary. 

Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 111 reviews

Drain Free Method for #MommyMakeover

Recently a technique has been slowly becoming more popular using Progressive Tension Sutures (quilting stitches) to attach the superficial skin/fat to the deep muscle layer below to prevent fluid accumulation that a drain would otherwise remove. It is not fool proof (nothing is), takes a bit more time under anesthesia to place these stitches and a girdle is generally worn immediately but a drain-less Tummy Tuck seems to work well. Patients tend to like this as there is no drain care and they can shower earlier. There may be slightly more swelling, more of a chance for seroma in some but in the long run (after 1-2 months) no difference in the swelling of those with and those without drains. On the other hand use of drains in my experience is a quicker operative time, early on prevents seroma and minimizes bruising, easy and painless to remove postoperatively, no need to wear the elastic garment/girdle until the drains come out in my practice.


Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Drains and Tummy Tucks

Thank you for your post. Whenever there is a potential space in your body, your body tends to fill that space with serous fluid (the yellow type of fluid that also comes out of a 'weeping wound'. This is similar to when you get a blister: the layers of skin separate and fluid is deposited in to the space. In a tummy tuck, the space is in between the skin/fat layer and the muscle layer. Most surgeons will place a drain to remove this fluid while your body is secreting it until the fat layer grows back together with the muscle layer. At that point, no more fluid is secreted into the area, because there is no more space for fluid. The length of time that this takes varies from patient to patient. Some patients heal much faster, thus the layers seal together much faster. Also, the more twisting motion you have in your belly area, the slower the two layers grow back together because they are moving in relation to each other. The fluid coming through the drain can be initially dark red, and eventually clears to pink then yellow. This is because it takes just a little bit of blood to make the fluid dark red. Also, initially, there can be a large amount of fluid (few hundred cc's in the first day is not out of the range of normal) and this should slow down substantially over next few days. Once the fluid slows down to the amount that your surgeon is comfortable with (usually 25-50 cc in 24 hours) then they will be pulled. There is minimal discomfort in pulling the drain in most patients.
More recently, 'drain free' surgery has become more popular. Fat layer is sutured down to the muscle layer starting at the ribs and progressively down to the lower incision. This makes the space for the fluid to collect much smaller, and in many patients can have surgery without drains. However, I have seen multiple patients come from other surgeons because they developed a seroma despite the suturing of the tissue. This is not the surgeon's fault, but some patients just do not heal fast enough or put out too much fluid for the body to absorb.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Drain free method for Mommy Makeover, (Abdominoplasty). Upside and Downside

The Mommy Makeover usually consists of Breast Lift and/or Augmentation along with an Abdominoplasty (Tummy tuck).  As with all surgery, different surgeons have different techniques.  The non drain tummy tuck consists of using quilting sutures to obliterate dead space as you go.  One obliterates dead space so that the patient does not get a seroma.  A seroma is a collection of fluid.  This is the reason that most surgeons place drains so as to get the serum out of the operative area until the body can scar down and obliterate the dead space.  The down side of the quilting techniques is that sometimes there will be a pleating of the soft tissue.  Best to talk with your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.  Together you will make the best decision for you.

Jeffrey J. Roth, MD, FACS
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Drains are not necessary for tummy tuck

 Swelling occurs after any surgery, it is only a clinical problem if it is allowed to accumulate. Sutures can be placed at the time of surgery that will eliminate the space where fluid would accumulate making the drains unnecessary. I have not used a drain tube for a tummy tuck procedure in more than 7 years. Aside from being a painful nuisance, drain tubes can be a source of infection and swelling can accumulate after the drains are removed.

Mark Preston, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Mommy make over without drains

Seems to be a lot of fuss over this, but we have not used drains for tummy tuck and mommy make over for many years now. None of this is new, and the drains are not needed, really. The benefits are a better recovery and experience. Nothing like tubes sticking out to spoil the transition.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Mommy makeover technique without drains

Mommy makeovers usually involve some sort of abdominal contouring procedure (abdominoplasty).  Some techniques make use of "quilting" sutures to obliterate dead space.  This technique usually obviates the need for drains, but the quilting sutures can cause abdominal skin tethering which might interfere with normal contours. 


So: pros and cons of drain vs. no drain technique depend really on the surgeon's experience.  Drains are more common and are slightly less comfortable; quilting techniques avoid the drain but can cause minor contour problems.

Daniel Greenwald, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Drains are not always required

Drains are used for various surgeries to remove fluid from the surgical site or to seal off spaces.  It is frequently used in tummy tucks, some breast surgeries, and other cosmetic procedures.  There are times when a "mommy makeover" consisting of breast and abdominal surgery does not require drains.

The benefit is that without drains, there is no maintenance and subsequent removal of the drains. I hope this helps


Mitchell F. Grasseschi, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

No drains on a Mommy Makeover, is there a benefit?

The drain free method for a mommy makeover utilizes stitches to decrease the dead space that is created with surgery. I can see where some people would prefer this as post-op drains are not the most pleasant situation, but I always remove mine a 1 week and feel that the reward is worth the benefit. This includes decreased swelling and bruising. The benefits are obvious, not having a drain, but if fluid does accumulate after surgery then it will need to be drained, that is the downfall.

Jonathan Weiler, MD
Baton Rouge Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 85 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.