Should I be concerned about post MM abdominal drain tubes being dark red and producing 20-25cc per day after 3 1/2 weeks?

I am 3 1/2 weeks post op of having MM (BL, abdominoplasty, TT, and lipo of back, sides and inner thighs. My breast drains were removed within first week but my abdominal drains are still putting out 20-25cc in 24 hours and dark red in color. PS is still waiting for color change before removing. While I don't want drain tubes removed too early and risk seroma I was wondering if I should be concerned? I am still uncomfortably swollen and wear comp. garments 24/7. Ugh. Help?!?

Doctor Answers 9

Drain tubes

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Drains are typically removed by approximately two weeks post surgery when the drainage has diminished and the color is light.  They can be left in longer in some cases.  Be sure that you are keeping in contact with your surgeon to discuss your progress.

Post-Op Drains at 3.5 Weeks

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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. Now, with these extreme fluids running out of your drain it would be best to visit your surgeon and have the area examined for healing. In case there is an infection or delay in healing it may be best to help get treatments from your surgeon. Good luck.

Tummy tuck drains

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Good question, "when should drains come out."

Now that they are there, generally they are removed when drainage is less than 1 cc per hour over a day or 2. Sometimes they just keep draining a lot however.  The dark color may be from a hematoma that is liquefying and that needs to be excluded. Back when I used drains they would come out no matter what at 3 weeks. Each surgeon has their own plan on this, since there is little guidance based on scientific literature. Talk with your surgeon for the best answer.

I Don't use drains for breast reduction or for Tummy any longer. I never used them for standard breast augmentation and I haven't for 6 years with tummy tucks. They are not needed with newer techniques.

Mark Eberbach, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon

Dark red drainage 3.5 weeks post op

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Thanks for your question. Although most patients have their drains removed by two weeks post op, some require longer time. I understand your surgeon's concern about dark red drainage, this means that you still have some old blood under your skin. Normally most drainage is straw color by two weeks. Follow your surgeon's advice. Be patient and keep wearing your compression garment. Good luck. 

Should I be concerned about post MM abdominal drain tubes being dark red and producing 20-25cc per day after 3 1/2 weeks?

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3.5 weeks is definitely on the long side for having drains in. You do have an increased risk of infection when drains are left in for prolonged periods of time. Just make sure that you are in regular contact with your PS as you want them to come out ASAP.

Blood in drains

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Thanks for your inquiry, at 3 1/2 weeks you would expect the drainage to be more clear.  Make sure you are seeing your surgeon regularly to be evaluated, as he/she is your best option to getting advice as they know the detail of the surgery performed.  Good Luck. 


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Thanks for the question and hope you feel better soon and enjoy your results after surgery.  When to remove drains can be a difficult decision based on many factors, and the timing for removal can be different for every patient.  If you are healing well and have no other symptoms or signs of issues, then the color of the drain output on its own is not concerning.  Hopefully your drains will be ready for removal soon!

Soumo Banerji, MD
Houston Physician

Drains at 3 weeks

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Thank you for your question.

Did you have a lot of skin removed from the abdomen? I am not concerned with what you are describing in regard to the amount of drainage you are having.  In cases where you have several procedures done at once, it takes a while for things to heal. There is a lot of dissection done during a tummy tuck, so the drains can stay in for weeks.  The thing I am concerned with is that the drainage is dark red. Is the abdomen more swollen on one side than the other. At 3 weeks out the drainage should be light pink to yellowish. Dark red drainage makes me think you have a hematoma, which is a collection of blood underneath the skin.  Has your surgeon mentioned anything like this?  It is good the drains are still in to help it drain and if you do have a hematoma, it must be small that your surgeon is just watching it.  Without seeing you in person, it is hard to determine what is exactly going on.

Should I be concerned about 20-25cc of dark red drainage from my TT tubes 3.5 weeks after surgery?

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Thank you for sharing your question and congratulations on your surgery.  Your drainage amount is not as concerning as the described color.  If it resembles tomato juice you may have had a hematoma that is now liquefying and draining.  I would visit your surgeon for an in-person evaluation and discussion of your output.  Best wishes

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.