Drains after Plastic Surgery

How to Care for Tummy Tuck Drains

  1. Generally, only in an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) or gynecomastia will drains stay in longer than 24 hours. In facelifts, breast reductions and skull reshaping surgery the drains will be removed the next day and the following instructions do not apply.
  2. Antibiotic ointment should be applied around the drain exit site from the skin and covered with dry gauze which is split to fit around the tube.
  3. The recording of the drain output is important to determine when they may be safely removed. This is particularly important in tummy tuck procedures. Drains should be emptied at the same hour twice a day (AM and PM) and recorded. As such, you are recording 12 hours at a time. The AM and PM amounts are added together to get the 24 hour total. In general, drains are removed when the 24 hour total is less than 40ccs.
  4. Twice a day, or as needed, maintain patency of the drain tube by pinching the tube near the skin exit site with one hand and stripping the tube between the thumb and index finger of the opposite hand. Clots and pieces of tissue may be seen in the tubing. If they seem to be obstructing the tube’s flow, roll the tubing between your fingers in an attempt to mobilize it. DO NOT flush anything into the tubing in an attempt to clean it.
  5. If the drain should start to come out (white portion of the tube showing), it is safe to push it back in until the white portion no longer shows.
  6. If the drain should accidentally fall out completely, cover the site with antibiotic ointment and gauze. DO NOT put the drain back in.
  7. You may shower with the drains. The drains may be long enough to hang and lay on the floor. If not, wear a ‘belt’ (e.g., made of pantyhose, bathrobe belt, or an old pants belt) and pin the drains to it to free your hands for showering. Submerging the drains in a bath should not be done as bath water may enter the surgical site. You may take a sponge or tub bath as long as the drain sites do not get under water.
  8. Bring you drain record with you for each appointment. Drains will be removed when the total output is 40ccs or less for a 24 hour period.