Why Do You Wear a Drain for Tummy Tuck, but Not for Lipo?

My sister had Lipo as part of a scar revision. I had some lipo and a Tummy Tuck and wore a drain. She did not.

Doctor Answers 5

Why do we use a drain for a tummy tuck

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A tummy tuck creates a large space where fluid can collect and overwhelm the bodies ability to absorbe difficult for the body to absorb. We want to remove the fluid because it can prolonged swelling, interfere with healing of one surface to another, and be a potential source of infection.  A drain manages the fluid collection during the inflammatory period has subsided and the drainage diminishes. Liposuction creates many smaller spaces in which the fluid is easily absorbed and does not pool.

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Using drains for a tummy tuck

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Tummy Tucks are a very popular and effective way to contour the abdomen. In our practice, patients routinely receive a drain to help remove the excess fluid that your body will create after a tummy tuck. This fluid will collect in the open space that is created when we lift the skin and fat during your tummy tuck. Although we use a great deal of fluid during liposuction, we do not create open space in liposuction like the one that is created with a tummy tuck. For this reason, drains are necessary in a tummy to surgery but not with just liposuction.

To learn more about tummy tucks, see photos, and help you decide which one is best for you, please visit us at the link below:

Drains for tummy tuck and not lipo

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Good question. I always drain a tummy tuck because of the wide undermining and the disruption of key lymphatic channels that would normally absorb fluid. In most forms of liposuction, the lymphatic channels are not disturbed too much and therefore a drain is not necessary. Sometimes with Vaser liposcution, drains are used.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Lipo almost never requires drains

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Liposuction doesn't involve much separation of the tissues so it does not require as much operative management.

When a surgeon places a drain at surgery he/she is trying to prevent fluids from collecting in tissue planes created during that surgery. Some operations benefit from them and others don't need them.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon

Drains are at discretion of surgeon

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The idea is that fluid can pool in the large cavity created when you do an abdominoplasty. Most fluid in the interstitium or in small cavities will resorb in liposuction and there is usually not a large cavitiy into which you can insert a physical drain although in the early days of liposuction when blood loss was more severe, some surgeons did insert drains. Conversely, some surgeons do not use drains in abdominoplasties, electing to use fibrin glue or interstitching to reduce fluid oozing or to close the potential space of the cavitiy. Most surgeons elect to allow the small amount of fluid produced with liposuction to passively ooze out of the body into foam dressings via the small incision used to introduce the cannulas. In general, the larger the potential cavity, the more the indication for drains.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

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.