Tummy Tuck 6 Weeks Post Op Drainage?

Im a 26yr old male lost 130lbs natrually. i decided to have a TT and am now 6 weeks post op i had one drain removed 2 weeks ago but i still have one drain in. after reading all the other q&a on drains this seems to be a long time to still have one in. my drain sum days will be as low as 5cc than the next. day be as high as 60-70 cc my ps really doesnt answer any of my questions and isnt explaing why its like this only thing he has done was put a new drain in 3 days ago.

Doctor Answers 4

Drains and Tummy Tucks

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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

Post Tummy Tuck Drainage?

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Thank you for your question. Drainage after a Tummy Tuck can be a challenge. As uncomfortable a drain is, the drain helps you to heal faster. No drain means fluid accumulation preventing the skin from healing. Usually the volume of fluid decreases each day, and doesn't bounce around. I suggest stripping the drains to ensure good flow, and follow up with your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. I hope this helps.

PS not communicating

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You have a post operative seroma which is fairly common. This will likely go away very soon and not be a problem. It is appropriate to place another drain as this will help it heal faster. Sorry your PS does not communicate well, this is probably just his personality. Try talking more to the nurse, usually they relate more to the patient. 

Continued Drainage 6 Weeks Post Tummy Tuck

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First, congratulations on the weight loss.  That is tough and must have taken quite a bit of effort and determination.  Regarding the drainage - there are two typical types of drainage that can occur.  Blood is fairly obvious and I'm sure you are not bleeding this long after surgery.  Serum however can leak out of the tissues for quite a while.

During the course of the tummy tuck a fairly large raw area is created.  This causes a lot of fluid to leak from the tissues.  There are ways to deal with this and the most common is to place drains to prevent you from developing a seroma (collection of serous fluid).  Most people stop draining within 3 weeks but it is not unheard of to continue longer.

Your plastic surgeon has options to treat the serous leakage if it just won't stop.  Make sure and express your concerns to your surgeon.  Good luck to you.

Al Rosenthal, MD
Lawrenceville 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.