Drainless Tummy Tuck
An abdominoplasty, also called a tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that can remove loose skin, tighten the abdominal wall and remove unwanted fat on the abdomen. It is one of the most popular plastic surgeries in the world and at PURE Plastic Surgery. Typical tummy tuck patients have lost a significant amount of weight, experienced pregnancy or have stubborn belly fat that will not disappear with a change in diet and exercise.
There are various techniques for performing a tummy tuck, and they vary by surgeon. Some surgeons opt to use drains and others provide a drainless option for their patients. A drainless tummy tuck can provide beautiful results and can reduce complications in post-op recovery.
What is the different between a drainless tummy tuck and a traditional tummy tuck?
Traditional tummy tucks are performed along with liposuction. During a traditional tummy tuck, the skin and fat are elevated off of the abdominal muscles. This allows us to perform a repair of the diastasis (separation of the abdominal muscles). When this happens, it creates a space between the skin and fat that was elevated off the abdominal muscles, which can take three to four weeks to fully heal. The traditional tummy tuck techniques require the placement of drains in this space to remove the fluid that accumulates after surgery. Drains are required because after surgery when patients stand, walk and move, the gravity causes the fluids to move down into this space at a faster rate than the lymphatic system can remove it from the body. The fluid is removed through the drains for one to three weeks as the body heals.
Drainless tummy tuck procedures also include liposuction and diastasis repair similar to the traditional technique. The way we can eliminate drains is with an additional layer of sutures called progressive tension sutures. These sutures are used to tack the skin and fat back down to the abdominal muscles and minimize the space fluid can accumulate. This technique reduces the amount of stress placed on the lymphatic system, which in turn works more efficiently to rid the body of fluid because there is less fluid to remove.
Can you have a drainless mini tuck?
Yes, the drainless procedure can be performed with a mini tuck and a full tummy tuck. Mini tucks are a less invasive option for patients who only have excess loose skin below the belly button. This procedure has a shorter recovery time than a full tummy tuck.
Is recovery different for a drainless tummy tuck?
Recovery for a drainless tummy tuck can will take four (4) to six (6) weeks of total recovery time.
While the surgery can reduce down time, it may also lower the complications many experience in caring for the drains and incision post-surgery. Traditional tummy tucks require patients to regularly clean the drains, measure the amount of fluid that accumulates each day and keep a record of the fluid measurements for the surgeon. These step in the recovery process are eliminated with a drainless tummy tuck.
Without drains, patients are able to wear their normal clothes instead of finding or buying clothes that accommodate and hide the drains. This allows some patients whose jobs are less strenuous to return to work faster.
Are you a good candidate for a drainless tummy tuck?
You are an ideal candidate for a drainless tummy tuck if you:
- are in good health
- have a BMI under 34
- are at or close to your goal weight
- have had a child and significant weight gain around the abdomen that cannot be lost through exercise
- have skin issues in upper and lower abdominal area
- have damaged abdominal muscles due to pregnancy
- have fat deposits around abdomen
Are compression garments necessary after a drainless tummy tuck?
Yes, after a drainless tummy tuck you will be required to wear a compression garment for a few weeks to optimize healing and reduce swelling. Follow your surgeons post-operative instructions for the best experience and results.
Dr. S. Alexander Earle is an Ivy League-educated, double board-certified plastic surgeon with vast experience in both reconstructive and aesthetic surgery. He is certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Earle is also the founder of Pure Plastic Surgery and the President of the World Association of Gluteal Surgeons.