What if the Suctioned Area Hasn't Drained at All After Surgery?

Doctor Answers 9


The amount of drainage after liposuction depends on mant variables, including how much fluid is pumped in prior to suctioning. There is no need to be concerned as long as you are seeing your surgeon for regular post-op checks.

Columbia Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

No Drainage after Liposuction

   No drainage after liposuction is unusual, but the amount of drainage can vary quite a bit depending upon the number of areas liposuctioned, the volume infiltrated, the amount of lipoaspirate, and the use of sutures for closure of liposuction ports.  The fluid, if not present as a collection, should be absorbed.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 496 reviews

Drainage or "leaking" after liposuction

Most patients have minimal to a lot of drainage for a few days after liposuction. It is normal to have no drainage, and also normal to drain enough to require "chucks" on the bed the first night or so (chucks are like puppy pee pads).

Depending on the area that was treated, and how many areas are treated, you may have more or less drainage.

Leaking after liposuction is mostly from the "tumescent" anesthesia that is used. Tumescent anesthesia is the injection of a large volume of very dilute lidocaine into the fatty tissue layer to be treated. It causes the tissues to go numb so that the patient is comfortable. It also allows for easier removal of the fat as it separates and breaks up the fat cells. It also allows for decreased bleeding during the procedure as there is a small amount of epinephrine placed in the tumescent fluid. Epinephrine causes blood vessels to constrict. Basically every surgeon that does liposuction uses tumsecence.

As far as drainage, if you don't drain, it may be that you have a little more swelling after the procedure - but that is pretty subjective.

Jennifer Reichel, MD
Seattle Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Drainage does not always accompany liposuction.

Most liposuction includes preparation of the fat with tumescent fluid. This commonly will drain for a day or so after the procedure through the access points. On occasion however there is no drainage. This is nothing to worry about.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Fluid after surgery

Your question is difficult to answer without more description.  If you still have localized swelling in the area of liposuction soon after your procedure, your body will likely absorb this fluid on its own.   If this is occurring weeks after your liposuction, you may have a fluid collection or hematoma that needs to be addressed.  I would recommend checking in with your surgeon to make certain all is progressing properly.

Adam David Lowenstein, MD, FACS
Santa Barbara Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Liposuction and drainage

Usually patients drain for a few days and then it stops. The remaining fluid will usually get absorbed by the body.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

What i have seen in drainage of lipo

Sometimes the patients drain for about 5 days , but in some cases the patients  drain very little and sometimes nothing , when that happens we should be very careful in checking the areas because they can develop seromas ( serum accumulation ) which can be drain in your doctor's office by a little needle with no more problems , I personally don't close the incisions and sometimes I place a drain ( JP ) the pressure garments and the drainage will make the healing process better


Eduardo Gongora, MD
Mexico Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

What if the suctioned area hasn't drained at all after surgery?

The easy answer here is that this can be completely normal.  There is really no one way to treat suctioned areas after surgery.  Some surgeons prefer to place drains, others do not.  Some leave the incisions open to drain on their own while others close them tightly.  


I personally do not place drains for liposuction only and I close my incisions moderately tight so that some drainage can occur.  By doing this, I have never had a seroma when only liposuction has been performed.  


If you are having very little to no drainage, then I would keep an eye on the treatment area and make sure that it doesn't appear to be getting more swollen or that there isn't evidence that fluid is building up under the tissues.  If you think there is fluid, then it's best to call your surgeon and have him/her evaluate you.  Otherwise, you will probably heal just fine.


I hope that helps!

Gregory A. Buford, MD, FACS
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Drainage after liposuction

Depending on the type of liposuction and the type of incision closure will determine the degree of postoperative drainage.  Some surgeons leave the incisions open to drain and others place sutures to partially close the incisions.  Typically, I see patients drain for about one day after liposuction and then it stops.  If you have not had any drainage then you may stay more swollen longer another person who did have drainage.

Todd C. Case, MD
Tucson Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 57 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.