Tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that removes redundant skin and soft tissues of the lower abdomen while tightening the abdominal core muscles. Drains are generally placed during surgery, which are removed during early recovery. Here are 5 FAQ about drains after tummy tuck surgery:

What is the purpose of drains after tummy tuck?

Drains are placed to reduce fluid accumulation at the surgical site. They may reduce the incidence of seromas (fluid collections) and resultant complications following tummy tuck. Drains also indicate the amount of bleeding that is occurring during early healing. A surgical drain has several parts (photo credit MSKCC); a fenestrated tube that is placed at the surgical site, which generally exits through a small gap in the lower abdominal incision. The drain tube does not have any holes beyond the skin level to maintain suction at the surgical site. This tube then connects to a bulb, which is placed under negative pressure to maintain suction. The bulb is gently compressed before the stopper is inserted to maintain suction at the surgical site.

How do I measure drain output?

You will be instructed regarding appropriate drain care prior to discharge home the morning after tummy tuck. The stopper should be removed before measuring the amount of fluid within the bulb. The fluid amount should be recorded on your drainage sheet. It is recommended to empty the drains at roughly the same time every morning and evening to allow comparisons regarding 24 hour drain output. Once the fluid amount has been recorded, please empty the drain and insert the stopper while the bulb is compressed. This is important to maintain suction.

When are drains removed after tummy tuck?

Drains are generally removed when the output has reached a low and consistent level. A ballpark is 30mL of drainage or less over a few consecutive 24 hour periods. Generally the first drain is removed one week post-operatively and the second drain shortly thereafter when appropriate levels have been reached.

Is drain removal painful?

Patients may experience a pulling or pressure sensation, however there is generally no pain experienced during drain removal. Drain removal takes only a few seconds. The stitch securing the drain in place is first removed followed by gentle removal of the drainage tube. Following removal a gauze pad should be placed over the site for a day or so until the small opening closes over.

Can I shower with drains after tummy tuck?

You may shower while the drains are in place. You will be instructed regarding appropriate showering care prior to discharge home following tummy tuck. Drains may be secured to a loose loop of pantyhose tied around your waist while showering. A washcloth should be held overlying the drain sites while showering as you gently wash your incisions with soap and running water.

Please contact us if considering tummy tuck surgery in the Toronto area. Dr. Power will assess whether tummy tuck may help you achieve your aesthetic goals.

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