Pros and Cons of a Drainless Tummy Tuck

Pros and Cons of a Drainless Tummy Tuck

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There are different types of tummy tucks. One of the most little-known types is the drainless tummy tuck. The difference between this type and the traditional tummy tuck is how patients are stitched up. Drainless tummy tucks eliminate fluid accumulations so that no drainage tubes are necessary. The result is a faster and more comfortable recovery for the patient.

Who makes the best candidate for a drainless tummy tuck procedure?

The best candidates for the drainless variety of tummy tuck are those who are already within around 10 pounds of their ideal body weight. If you need to undergo a more involved tummy tuck procedure, you would probably need drains inserted for proper healing.

Your plastic surgeon will determine if a drainless tummy tuck is a suitable choice for you. Some surgeons prefer using drains, while others only perform drainless tummy tucks. So make sure to discuss your options with your plastic surgeon beforehand to learn their recommendations for your unique body type and treatment goals.

Why Drains?

why Drains - tummy tuck

Although drains are sometimes necessary, most patients find them uncomfortable, with a tendency to get in the way. A tummy tuck will result in a cavity between the fat on top and the skin, which will naturally fill up with fluid, similar to how a blister fills up with fluid.

Following a tummy tuck procedure, all of that fluid is like the water in a waterbed sloshing around. If it remains this way, the area cannot heal, and the surfaces will be separated by the fluid, preventing them from healing together. After the two surfaces have healed together, there will be no place for fluid to accumulate. At that point, your surgeon can remove your drains, although it can take up to three weeks for this to happen.

How It Works

Drainless tummy tucks have been around long enough that many patients are aware of them and ask for this option. They work through many tiny sutures for sewing layers of fat and skin near the muscles, sealing off any potential cavity where fluid could accumulate. So the two layers are held together and heal together without moving.

Drainless Tummy Tuck: Pros

One key advantage of the drainless tummy tuck procedure is that not much maintenance is required afterward. Normally, patients who receive drainage tubes must empty them several times a day after filling up. They must also keep track of the liquid inside and note its color while maintaining detailed collection amounts while their drains are in place.

Patients with drains must also be careful not to kink or bend when under their clothes. Patients who undergo drainless tummy tuck procedures have no worries about maintaining drains, making the process smoother and more comfortable.

Another advantage of abdominoplasty without drainage is that you will be more comfortable recovering.

Drainless Tummy Tuck: Cons

To undergo a drainless tummy tuck, your plastic surgeon would need to use a different technique, which means that you would be spending more time in the operating room, which you may see as a disadvantage. When performing this procedure, your plastic surgeon would be eliminating the space between the overlying skin and fat and the abdominal wall, removing the necessity for drains, but making it a more complex type of surgery.

Is the drainless tummy tuck procedure better?

In comparison to conventional tummy tuck procedures, the drainless tuck has these advantages:

  • Lower infection risk: Studies have found that fluid accumulation’s side effects are reduced without drains. These side effects had as much as a 26% incident rate with drains, while those performed without drains had a 4% rate at the highest.
  • No drain maintenance: Drains must be cleaned and maintained during your recovery and require emptying several times a day.
  • Ability to shower sooner: A conventional tummy tuck means that you must wait a week or more before showering, while a drainless tummy tuck means you can shower in just a few days.
  • Improved comfort: Sleeping and sitting are more comfortable. With a conventional tummy tuck, your drains tend to pull on your skin, creating discomfort. Patients undergoing drainless tummy tucks report less swelling and pain near the incision and more comfortable recovery.

How is a drainless tummy tuck performed?

The tummy tuck part of the procedure is the same in both cases. The difference is in the way that patients are stitched up.

After being administered anesthesia, your surgeon will form an incision above your pubic area. They will then tighten any lax muscles and remove excess skin. Next, they will reposition your belly button if necessary, stitching it into place.

Your surgeon would then close your incisions using sutures that will be drainless. After completing your tummy tuck, you will be guided to the recovery area and should be able to return home the same day.

Can I have a drainless tummy tuck?

Most people who make appropriate candidates for a conventional tummy tuck also qualify for a drainless tummy tuck. Schedule a consultation with your plastic surgeon to go over your best aesthetic options and find a solution that works for you so that you can achieve a more sleek and youthful abdominal profile.

Dr. John E. Nees, MD

Dr. John E. Nees, MD

Medically reviewed by
Dr. John E. Nees, MD specializes in aesthetic plastic surgery in Miami, FL


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