More drains equal more risk for infection, less drains equal more risk for seroma? What will determine number of drains?

Hi, I am still planning to have TT, Lipo and BBL all together and I know that I will have drains ( 1 to 3 drains ) . What will determine the number or the drains and how long they stay in ? Can I go back to work with drains ? Thanks!

Doctor Answers 7


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Thank you for your question.  The number of drains depends on the surgeon and the patient.  The amount of skin lifted and amount of liposuction performed can influence how many drains.  Typically drains stay in place for 5-10 days.  I do not recommend my patients go back to work with drains in.  Discuss with your surgeon to determine his or her preference.  
Best Wishes!

Tucson Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Drains and Tummy Tuck

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I do not use drains any more with this procedure and have switched from pain pumps to Exparel which is a long acting injectable pain medicine like Lidocaine or Marcaine but lasts for three days. This is injected all along the muscle and skin to provide pain relief. This is termed the Pain-less, Drainless Tummy Tuck. If you go to a doctor who uses #drains, they usually stay in 3-5 days but may be required to remain in longer.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Drainless Tummy Tuck

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Actually the data is clear and convincing that performing a tummy tuck using progressive tension sutures and without drains has a LOWER risk of seroma. To be clear, the surgeon can not simply not use drains. He needs to secure the skin flap securely to the abdominal wall to obliterate the space and prevent sliding movement between the layer. With this accomplished, drains are unnecessary.

Best of luck!

Gerald Minniti, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 100 reviews


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The use of drains, and the number of drains, is completely dependent on surgeon preference. Some surgeons use none some surgeons use one or more. It depends on what the surgeon finds gives him or her the best results. If you have questions about how many drains you might have, you will have to ask your surgeon. 

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Drains post abdominoplasty

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Thank you for your question.  1-3 drains is typical for an abdominoplasty especially with liposuction. Most surgeons use quilting sutures to decrease the amount of space fluid can collect. In a very small abdominoplasty, sometimes drains are not required.  If you are having liposuction at the same time, it preferred to have drains. Typically 2 are placed. With an abdominoplasty there is really no increase risk of infection. Adding drains to something like a mastopexy-augmentation does add a small increase risk of infection because of the implant which is a foreign body. You can return to work with drains if necessary. The drains will remain in place until they are discharging little to no fluid. Don't rush this process. 

Drains after surgery

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Drains placed following a TT does not mean higher infection rate of you care for them properly. I recommend patients wax a few days before surgery and use Biopatches around the drain sites. 1-3 drains sounds typical. I use quilting or progressive tension sutures to minimize dead space, and use 2 drains if also performing Lipo. I might add a third in larger patients.

Taking excellent care of the drain sites is important so discuss this with your surgeon.

Stacey Folk, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 25 reviews


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More drains do not equate with more risks of infection and your surgeon  determines the number of drains that you will need during the procedure. The drains can maximize your safety.  Drains will stay in place until your drainage has diminished. 


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.