Drains are commonly used after tummy tuck surgery to lower the risk of developing a fluid collection at the surgical site and associated complications. Two drains after tummy tuck are typically placed, which may exit through the traverse incision of the lower abdomen to eliminate additional scarring. Patients will be instructed regarding appropriate drain care prior to discharge home after tummy tuck. You will be shown how to measure and record the output as well as how to appropriately maintain drain suction. Patients often ask, "how long until drains may be removed after tummy tuck?".

Drains after tummy tuck are removed when drainage has tapered appropriately

Drainage will gradually taper following tummy tuck surgery.  It will initially appear bloody over the first few days. Drainage will darken over time as bleeding stops and old blood is drained from the surgical site.  The fluid then gradually changes to a clear yellow or pink-tinged hue, which is omaous drainage. Drains are usually removed when draining 30cc or less over a few consecutive days. Most commonly the drain with lower output is removed at approximately one week post-operatively. The second drain is usually removed the following week when drainage has tapered appropriately. Drains may be left in place for a longer time period if required in some cases.

What may happen if drains after tummy tuck are removed too early?

If drains after tummy tuck are removed too early, there may be increased risk of seroma formation (fluid collection).  Almost all patients after tummy tuck will develop a small seroma if investigated using ultrasound. If a seroma is clinically apparent, there are different options.  A small collection will likely resorb on its own and may not require treatment. If large or symptomatic, it may be aspirated during a follow up visit. If concerns regarding an infected seroma develop, drainage would be urgently required in addition to wound care as healing progresses. Drains and the abdominal compression binder are an important combination to lower risk of fluid accumulation at the surgical site after tummy tuck.

What if drains after tummy tuck are removed too late?

If drains are left in place too long after tummy tuck, this may promote ongoing drainage. It may also increase risk of developing an infection.  Dr. Power will closely monitor drain output and will remove the drains as soon as possible when medically indicated.  Prophylactic antibiotics may be prescribed when drains are in place, which will be discussed during your pre-operative visit.

Does drain removal hurt?

Drain removal is performed in office during a routine post-operative appointment. It is generally not a painful process.  Local anesthetic is not required. The drain is first taken off suction and its retaining stitch is released. Patients may experience a pulling or pressure-like sensation, however drain removal is generally well-tolerated and over within a few seconds.

Please contact us if considering body contouring procedures in the Toronto area to schedule a consultation with female plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephanie Power.

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