Drains are often used during or after surgery to help the body expel fluids that collect at the surgical site. Abdominoplasty, or tummy tucks, are no different and patients will have one or two temporary tummy tuck drains inserted after the procedure. 

Drains After Tummy Tuck Help With Healing

Although it may sound weird that your body needs to drain after tummy tuck surgery, it’s important to understand draining is necessary to help your body heal from the surgery and avoid infection. 

Tummy tucks remove excess skin that’s left behind after weight loss. Women, who have finished having children, are probably the most common tummy tuck patients followed by people who have achieved considerable weight loss. Losing that extra skin is like the crowning achievement after working hard to get to a normal weight! 

Removing that excess skin leaves behind empty, or dead, space that often fills with plasma and seroma. Plasma is fluid that develops outside of cells and normally transports nutrients around the body, while seroma is clear. Generally, you’ll notice the tummy tuck drains — thing plastic tubes — first remove plasma, which is red or pink, followed by yellow or clear seroma. 

It’s normal for the body to send fluids to an injured area, and surgery ​does ​ injure the body even if it’s repairing something inside. These fluids cause pain and swelling, but it’s the body’s way to cushion an injured area. The body can drain fluids on its own after minor injuries, but after surgery, it often floods the surgical site and can’t drain fluids fast enough.  

Drains speed up the process and avoid additional swelling and infection and in turn help with faster healing. They are thin, clear silicone tubes that are inserted through very small incisions behind the main incision. They reach into the area between the ribcage and pubic region, or a smaller gap in the lower part of the incision made into the abdomen. 

How Long Do Those Drain Tubes After Tummy Tuck Remain? 

Tummy tuck drains remain for ​5-7 days​ after the surgery. Most patients need​ 2 weeks​ of time off work to recover.

Dr. Rochlin will provide instructions on how to keep the drain tubes clean and empty the fluids, which accumulate into a bulb that’s emptied ​​a few times a day. She will also explain how to keep the surgical area clean and dry. The bulb has marks that indicate how much fluid has been drained. Dr. Rochlin ​sometimes ​asks patients to keep a log.

Patients are encouraged to walk after surgery even when drains are still in place. Moving helps with blood circulation, ​helps prevent DVT’s, ​and can be a useful distraction from lingering post-op soreness. 

Close-up Of Fit Young Woman


Don’t Let the Prospect of Drains Scare You! 

Is it worth it to go ahead with a tummy tuck? Dr. Rochlin’s patients say “Yes!” Take a look at our “Mommy Makeover” gallery​ to see before and after photos. Post-tummy tuck results look natural and by removing excess skin patients are free of that last bit of weight they can’t lose without surgery. 

This video about tummy tuck surgery​ includes a discussion of drainage tubes.

Are you considering a tummy tuck? ​Contact us today​ for a consultation.