During consultations with patients considering tummy tuck surgery at my Gilbert and Scottsdale-area offices, many of the questions focus on the recovery following the procedure. The subject of post-surgical drains can be a bit confusing and even a bit worrisome.
That’s why I wanted to address the subject in a blog post for women and men considering tummy tuck surgery, providing information that will help patients feel more confident about their experiences. Drains can sound scary, but they can actually shorten the recovery time and lower the risk of post-surgical complications.
Here are some of the most common questions and answers about drains that we hear at Advanced Plastic Surgery Institute:
What is the purpose of post-tummy tuck drains?
Understanding how surgeons perform abdominoplasty (tummy tucks) is necessary to appreciate the purpose of post-surgical drains. A tummy tuck removes excess skin and repairs certain abdominal muscles stretched or separated during pregnancy. After surgeons suture the incisions, a small space remains between the skin and muscle. Fluid composed of plasma can accumulate in this “dead space” and cause complications, including infection, fever, pain, and swelling. Drains reduce the accumulation of these fluids.
How do you empty and clean drains?
Surgeons insert 1 or 2 drains — clear tubes made of silicone — at the end of the tummy tuck procedure. We provide easy-to-understand, written instructions about drain care to all tummy tuck patients. Essentially, you will need to empty the bulb attached to the drain a few times a day until your surgeon removes the drain. Each time you empty the drain, it’s important to record how much fluid is removed. Wash the drainage site with antibacterial soap to prevent the build up of bacteria.
Do drains limit my activities?
Patients can generally walk and resume normal, day-to-day activities with drains. The key thing to remember is to protect the drains and keep them clean. Even though you’ll be recovering during the time you have drains, if you do want to go outside, post-surgical drain belts are available. Plan to take sponge baths or gentle, careful showers to avoid irritating the drains or sutures.
When does the surgeon remove the drains?
How long the drains remain in varies from patient to patient and how quickly they heal, but drains are generally removed up to 2 weeks after the surgery. Remember, most patients need to take that amount of time off from work after a tummy tuck, so the drains will be removed by then.
Tummy tuck procedures are among the most popular surgeries I perform because the results can be transformative, as you can see in before-and-after photos of actual patients. If you’ve been thinking about getting a tummy tuck and want to learn more, contact us using the online form to request a consultation, or call 1 of our offices at (480) 466-7355 (Gilbert).