Few plastic surgery procedures create the type of dramatic results as those produced with a tummy tuck surgery. At my Toronto clinic, patients considering tummy tuck (or abdominoplasty) surgery have lost significant weight, either after having children or through weight-loss surgery or lifestyle changes. Many will also opt for the mommy makeover, a combination of tummy-tuck, breast surgery and sometimes genital/labial rejuvenation.
One of the most common questions tummy tuck patients ask before surgery concerns the use of surgical drains. Plastic surgeons use drains to minimize the chances of developing a seroma, an accumulation of clear fluid below the skin’s surface. I use drains for some, but not all, tummy tuck patients. In this blog post I’ll explain a suturing technique I use to reduce the need for drains and why certain patients benefit from having drains inserted.
What Is a Tummy Tuck?
The tummy tuck procedure involves removing excess abdominal skin that remains after weight loss, repairing the loose abdominal muscles to prevent the internal organs from protruding out and to restore the hourglass shape in a lady, and repositioning and rejuvenating the belly-button. Nonsurgical skin tightening isn’t an option for patients with excessive excess skin. In many cases, I combine liposuction with a tummy tuck to improve results and create a smooth, contoured abdomen.
When Are Drains Needed?
I include drains in my surgical plans periodically, depending on the patient, the specific procedure, and if I’m combining other procedures as part of the surgery. For example, if I perform liposuction as part of the tummy tuck, there will be increased swelling, and it’s more important to include drains.
One of the techniques I use to avoid drains is quilting sutures. The quilting technique significantly reduces the risk of a seroma by virtually eliminating the “empty” space created between the skin and the muscle during a tummy tuck (one should know that the skin is detached from the muscles to allow a larger shift and larger excision). That space is where fluids accumulate and develop into seromas. However, it should be noted that the use of quilting sutures doesn’t guarantee that I won’t use drains because other factors are involved. Special, tight-fitting garments (compression garments) can also help prevent seromas.
If a patient develops a seroma after a tummy tuck, it may not require any treatment. The body may absorb the fluid from a smaller seroma within a few weeks. But larger seromas or hematomas (collection of blood), can distort the results of a tummy tuck and require serial aspiration and if all fails, revision surgery.
Maintaining and Removing Drains
Depending on the amount of fluid that needs to be drained, a seroma or hematoma may be present for 3 to 14 days, which is how long the drains could potentially stay in place. I provide easy-to-follow instructions for taking care of the drains and a chart will be provided to monitor the amounts drained, which will guide me to know when they should be removed.
Removing drains is virtually painless because I administer a local anesthetic to numb the area before the removal procedure.
Request a Consultation
If you’re interested in a tummy tuck, I encourage you to look through the before-and-after photos of my actual patients to get a good idea of the kind of results created by the procedure.
For more information or to schedule a consult, contact us using the online form or call our practice at (416) 929-9800 (Yorkville) or (905) 773-9675 (Richmond Hill).
My blogs on vaginal rejuvenation have everything you need to know.