Tummy tuck surgery is a transformative procedure that flattens and defines the abdomen and midsection. However, because many tissues and muscles are adjusted during surgery, the healing process is longer than some other cosmetic procedures.
Many surgeons insert specialized items called “drains” after tummy tuck surgery. These thin plastic tubes are placed under the skin and remain in place during your early recovery.
We often receive questions about tummy tuck drains from our Washington, DC, area patients. If you’re concerned about recovery and want to know what’s in store, here are a few important facts to keep in mind.
Why are drains needed after a tummy tuck?
Drains are sometimes needed after surgery to prevent fluid buildup at the surgical site.
During tummy tuck surgery, your doctor creates a “pocket” between the wall of abdominal muscles and the skin and tissue of your midsection. Once the abdominal muscles are repaired and excess fat and skin are removed, this pocket remains below the surface. Your body will naturally repair this void, slowly reconnecting skin to muscle—but fluid can fill the space in the meantime.
To prevent possible fluid build up, surgeons use tummy tuck drains to siphon off the excess fluid directly. Our own doctors use internal quilting stitches to limit the size of the pocket, further reducing the amount of fluid created in the first place and therefore shorten the time the drains may be in.
Do drains impact your day-to-day activities?
Tummy tuck drains won’t have a huge impact on your day-to-day life. You can safely move and walk while they are in place and complete normal daily tasks. Accessories such as drain belts or lanyards can also be used to keep drains in place during activity or showers.
How do you clean tummy tuck drains?
You want to keep your drains as clean as possible to prevent potential infections. The easiest way to do this is to keep the skin around the area clear and dry.
- Use an antibacterial soap to gently wash away any dirt or debris that collects on your body.
- Avoid harshly scrubbing the area with a rough sponge or a loofa.
- Use a soft washcloth when wiping down the area.
- You are able to shower in your drains.
How long do tummy tuck drains stay in?
Your tummy tuck drain will be removed 1-2 weeks after surgery in most cases. At your first post-op checkup, your doctor will analyze and measure the amount of fluid being collected by the drains. The drains can be safely taken out once fluid has reduced to an acceptable level. You will continue to wear a support garment for the next 3 weeks of your recovery period.
Tummy tuck drains require care and attention, but they play a crucial role in creating beautiful, long-lasting results. If you would like to learn more about your best tummy tuck options from a plastic surgeon in the Washington, DC, area, please request a consultation online. You can also contact our office by phone at (703) 560-2850 (Annandale, VA) or (301) 652-7700 (Chevy Chase, MD).
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