The Drain-Free, Enhanced Recovery Tummy Tuck

Recently, RealSelf users have been asking about tummy tucks and drains.

I met a lady who had a TT and was back at work in 5 days feeling wonderful. (Hard to believe) since every post I’ve read on RS has had some pain or discomfort. She said she didn’t have drains or the pain Med 3 day pump. Is there a new technique that allows for a TT do be done without having drains put in? – Leawood, KS

Is a Tummy Tuck safe without the use of drainage pumps? – Canada

No drain. Why is it that most women with TT and Lipo have drains for many days later? My surgeon tells me the drains come out before I go home. – Burlington, ON

When the skin is separated from the abdominal wall during the tummy tuck, it leaves a raw surface that can ooze blood and fluid until it sticks back down to the muscle. That blood and fluid could accumulate and cause what’s called a seroma (a collection of fluid under the skin). For that reason, many surgeons use drains so that the fluid drains out, rather than accumulating under the skin. However, there are newer techniques that allow us to avoid drains in many tummy tucks. We’ve found that our drain-free tummy tuck and pain management protocols lead to enhanced recovery and great results.

Our tummy tuck patients are hoping to eliminate extra skin and stretch marks, improve tummy shape, and reverse some of those pesky after-effects of pregnancy that linger long after their babies are grown. We get it! We’re moms too. Traditional tummy tucks involve removing the extra skin, tightening the abdominal wall, and placing drains under the skin to prevent fluid buildup while the skin is healing. It’s a big recovery, but it works well. But, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve our results and our patients’ experience, and our enhanced recovery tummy tuck has been a great step in that direction.

  • It starts with lots of pre-op education so our patients know what to expect before and after surgery.
  • Next up: several pain medicines before surgery. That’s right, before. Studies have shown a decrease in pain after surgery when certain pain meds are given before surgery.
  • Next comes a nerve block while our patient is asleep, but before the operation starts. Again, we find this step improves pain control after waking up, and for hours after.
  • We still take the traditional step of using some additional “numbing” or “freezing” along the muscles during the surgery.
  • When completing the tummy tuck, we fasten the skin back down with “quilting” or “progressive tension” sutures. It takes a bit more time and effort in the operating room to place these extra stitches, but they allow us to fasten the abdominal skin back down to the underlying fascia without placing a drain. Patients are more comfortable, more mobile, and take less pain medicine. The result is less swelling, fewer seromas (fluid collections), less tension on the incision, and happier patients!

Tummy tuck is still a major operation, but recent advances have allowed for enhanced recovery. We’d love to meet you and help you decide if the drain-free, enhanced recovery tummy tuck is a good option for you.