Jackson Pratt drain, how much drainage is expected?

I am 8 days post op tummy tuck with lipo to flanks. I have one JP drain which appears to be functioning properly. Since post op day 4-5 I have only been draining about 15cc a day. I saw my surgeon on day 6 and he discovered a clog which he corrected by milking the tubing. Since then it has drained about 30cc a day. I have continued to milk the tubing. I know at some point it will start to slow down but what is the average amount of draining you would expect to see 8-10 days post op tummy tuck?

Doctor Answers 4

How much drainage

Thank you for your question. Sounds like you are doing great. It's impossible to tell you what the average amount of drainage should be at post op day 8 to 10 after a tummy tuck because there are many variables involved. For example, patients with higher BMIs generally produce more drainage, people who have Lipo near TT site also have more drainage. 

Most surgeons  pull a drain once it puts out about 30 cc or less in a 24 hour period. I typically insert two drains for my TT patients. The average patient in my practice has their first one removed at 1 week and the second one at week two. My recommendation is to follow your surgeon's protocol. Good luck. 

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Drains after tummy tuck

Your drainage is completely normal.  I typically pull drains when they are putting out 30cc a day or less and the average time for this is about 7 days.  Hopefully you will get that drain out soon. Good luck, Jane

Jane M. Rowley, MD
Lubbock Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Jackson Pratt Drains

During abdominoplasty procedures, placement of one or more Jackson Pratt (JP) drains is quite common. Drains help to minimize post-operative swelling. In thin patients who don't require liposuction as part of their tummy tuck, drains may not be necessary. In contrast, more extensive procedures that do involve liposuction may require two or even three drains. The fluid collected in the drain is quite bloody to begin with, but over a period 3-7 days it usually transitions to a clear light yellow fluid. At the same time, the volume of fluid will gradually diminish. In my experience, this process is slower in patients with a relatively higher BMI, in those that have had a more extensive procedure and in those cases involving liposuction. In addition, being overly active during your recovery may contribute to higher fluid outputs. The 'average output' that I would see at 8-10 days would be quite low, perhaps  15-30cc, but keep in mind that there is a lot of variability. Your surgeon has unique knowledge about you and the procedure you've had and therefore he or she would be in the best position to comment on whether your recovery is progressing as expected.

Owen Reid, MD
Richmond Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Post-Op Drainage

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. If you find yourself at all concerned with the drainage you see or the area around the drain then you should never hesitate to see your surgeon live for a follow-up to make sure that the healing process is progressing well. Good luck.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 109 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.