If you’ve been considering a tummy tuck or mommy makeover, it is very likely that you have come across information about drains during your research, or saw photos on RealSelf or Instagram show patients after tummy tucks hauling around their drains. Well those days are gone! If you’re thinking about getting a tummy tuck but don’t like the idea of drains, then keep reading!
For many procedures, surgeons commonly put temporary drains in to collect fluid which may accumulate under the skin after the surgery. The reason they do this is because the body does not like to have spaces filled with air, so instead it produces fluid to fill that area. Anything that is removed from the body, whether it’s a lung or some fat, is immediately replaced by fluid to fill in the empty space. Most of the time the fluid just occupies the space until the body is able to remove it and replace the fluid with scar tissue during the healing process. Sometimes there is too much fluid for the body to remove quickly and it gets trapped in the tissue resulting in something called a seroma. A seroma is simply a collection of fluid the body placed there to fill a space during the healing process. To avoid this from happening, surgeons started using drains to collect excess fluid so that it didn’t get trapped underneath the skin. Having drains works great for removing unwanted fluid, but they are a bit of a nuisance for the patient!
“Some of my patients feel as though they still look pregnant years after having children due to diastasis recti,” says Dr. Sieber. A tummy tuck can flatten and transform the abdomen as it eliminates loose skin and repairs weak abdominal muscles, often secondarily helping with issues like back pain and urinary incontinence.
In order to reduce the amount of space left after a tummy tuck, something called a progressive tension suture (or quilting sutures) was invented. This suture acts like an internal tuft and results in less space into which fluid can collect. In most patients, when these progressive tension sutures are used during a tummy tuck, drains are no longer needed. Studies have shown that by adding these sutures, the incidence of seromas is drastically reduced whether or not drains are used.
Putting in the progressive tension sutures does add a little bit of time to the surgery, but in my opinion the benefits are worth it. The progressive tension sutures can also be placed in a very precise fashion to re-create the peaks and valleys of an aesthetically pleasing mid-section!
So if progressive tension sutures are so good, why are so many surgeons still using drains? This is in part is because surgeons tend to operate in ways that they feel are most reliable and predictable, and are slow and cautious to implement new techniques. I believe that it is important to be at the forefront of medicine and to adopt proven techniques which have been developed to improve the recovery process and optimize the surgical outcome.
If you’re thinking about getting a tummy tuck or a mommy makeover, ask if you’d be a good candidate for a drain-less tummy tuck. For more information or to schedule a consultation give us a call at 415-915-9000.