How is It Possible to Wear a Compression Garment With Drains?

I can see how a compression garment can be worn after the drains are taken out but while they are in, I dont want to get near them or the incision! How long do you need to have the drains in for? & Is there anything that needs to be applied to the incision during this time like cleaning it or using ointments? While I have the drains in, I really dont want to touch anything. The pain Im prepared for, but my biggest fear is caring for the incision. I dont want to do anything wrong!

Doctor Answers 5

Compression garment and drains after tummy tuck--less trouble than you think!

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Your drain(s) will exit the pubic area, and your garment will either be an elastic binder fastened to itself with Velcro, or a crotchless girdle-like garment. The drains come out below the binder or through the opening in the garment, and drain care is pretty simple. Your caregiver (family member, friend, or significant other) will be shown how to care for the drain and reservoir by the recovery room nurse or one of your surgeon's other staff, and you can take over this care the next day.

Your incision should mostly be left alone, but you should follow your surgeon's advice if there are any other instructions given. Usually, the incisions are sealed within a few days after surgery, and applying ointment, peroxide, or other things to your incision is generally NOT advised.

I use only below-the-skin dissolving sutures (except for a few tiny sutures around the belly button--removed at 1 week post-op) for the tummy tuck incision, so there are no sutures to remove or holes through the skin from stitches. This not only simplifies wound care post-op, but reduces inflammation that can leave more scarring, and gives an overall better result with less "work" for you.

Most patients have their drains removed by 7-10 days, but this is dependent upon the amount of drainage rather than a length of time. At 3 weeks post-op, Vitamin E oil can be massaged into the scar for 5 minutes daily (usually after showering) to help soften the scar. Mederma or other scar treatments can be used per your doctor's advice and recommendation. Avoid ultraviolet exposure (sun or tanning booth) to your scars for as long as they are pink to avoid dark (permanent) discoloration! But don't worry; your incisions won't look scary, and the wound care is really not a big deal! Best wishes!

Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

How is it possible to wear a compression garment with drains?

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Hello! Thank you for your question!. The tummy tuck procedure is an excellent method for contouring of your abdomen, often removing the excess skin as well as tightening the abdominal wall. After nearly all surgical procedures, a potential space is created from where the surgical procedure/dissection was performed. This is especially true for the tummy tuck, in where the abdominal flap is raised off of the abdominal wall and then redraped atop the area to contour the abdomen. The procedure alone promotes swelling and inflammation, which typically lasts for 6-12 weeks. This may even last longer if liposuction has been performed in addition. During this time, a few things may be done to allow adherence of the abdominal skin/soft tissue to readhere to the abdominal wall and close that space. Many surgeons use drains to evacuate the expected serous fluid from building up. Stagnant fluid as such may be a nidus for infection as well as does not allow the tissue to adhere back to its normal anatomic position. Drains usually are removed once output is <30cc/day - usually removed within 3-4 weeks on average, sometimes longer. When this occurs, a seroma may develop - which may require aspiration or surgical evacuation to rid this in order to optimize your result.

This is not an uncommon reason for persistent swelling and/or bulging in a certain area of your belly. Of course, thwarting the development of a pseudobursa, or seroma capsule, is always best, to provide the best result as well as avoid any future procedures for this. This may be a troubling consequence and often compromises your overall result. Thus avoiding this complication, in whatever manner, is the objective. "Drainless" tummy tucks are becoming more popular - basically, the overlying tissue is physically sutured to the abdominal wall to close the potential space. In addition, most surgeons typically restrict vigorous activity/strenuous exercise as well as lifting restrictions of usually <20#, especially the core, for 6-8 weeks to allow healing to continue. Most also often recommend an abdominal compression-type binder or garment, which will serve to provide compression as well as assist to decrease swelling and eliminate the dead-space of the area for at least 6 weeks as well. After the initial binder, many patients like the Spanx garments. Most patients are able to return to most activities within a couple of weeks, provided they adhere to the restrictions.

Overall, this is a procedure with a high satisfaction rate. Discuss the procedure and postoperative instructions/restrictions with your surgeon, as these will vary among surgeons. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Nobody likes drains!

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While nobody likes drains, everyone seems to cope with them reasonably well. I personally do not depend on compression after abdominoplasty however I find most people like having the support of a binder post op. If it becomes uncomfortable I discontinue it. Also, I keep it loose so as not to compromise the flap.

Thomas R. Walek, MD
Providence Plastic Surgeon

Can you wear a compression garment with drain from a tummy tuck?

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Most surgeon place drain tubes after a tummy tuck. These exit the skin through the pubic area. I use a compression garment which covers the patient from mid thighs to just under the breast crease. All compression garment manufacturers make their garments with an open crotch for ease of use of the restroom. The drains are passed through this opening. It seems to me that your biggest concern is postop wound care. This should be minimal, but if you don't even want to look at the scar you need someone to help you or maybe not even embark on surgery.

Drains after tummy tucks.

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The compression garment worn after a tummy tuck is usually a  binder that wraps around the tummy.  The drains are allowed to exit below the binder.  You should speak to the staff at your PS office to become more comfortable with the drain care and wound care as every PS has a different protocol.  It really is alot simpler than you may think.  Good Luck.

Beverly Friedlander, MD
Short Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 19 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.