During consultations with patients considering tummy tuck surgery, many of the questions focus on the recovery following the procedure. The subject of post-surgical drains can be 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 may 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:
Do I have to have drains after tummy tuck surgery?
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 I empty my drains after a tummy tuck?
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, you’ll record how much fluid is removed. Wash the drainage site with antibacterial soap to prevent the build-up of bacteria, then reattach the collection bulb and reestablish the drain’s suction.
Do drains limit my activities?
Tummy tuck drains are usually sutured into place so patients can generally walk around and resume normal, day-to-day activities with them. 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.
How should I prepare to shower after a tummy tuck with drains?
Most people can resume showering about 48 hours after surgery. However, it’s a good idea to plan to take sponge baths or gentle, careful showers to avoid irritating the drains or sutures. Gently pat your incisions and the area around the drains dry after you get out of the shower.
How long do drains stay in after tummy tuck surgery?
How quickly you heal and a variety of other factors will determine how long the drains remain in place. Generally, drains are generally removed within 7 to 10 days of 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 the time you head back to work.
Your Patience Is Worth the Wait
Tummy tuck recovery and dealing with the drains may seem daunting, but your vigilance and patience can pay off with excellent results. Take a look at some of my patients’ before and after pictures to see why many people feel the trade-off is well worth it.
Tummy tuck procedures are among the most popular surgeries I perform because the results can be transformative, as you can see in more before and after photos of actual patients.