Q: I’m planning on having a tummy tuck and have read that they can be done without using any drains. I don’t want a drain because it creeps me out thinking about a tube coming out of my body. I have also read that some plastic surgeons still use drains because they think it is better. What are your thoughts as to which way is best?
A: I have done tummy tucks both with and without drains. There are pluses and minuses each way which is why drain use is controversial and variable amongst different plastic surgeons. The purpose of a drain is to remove fluid that the body produces in the healing space of the tummy tuck area. When doing a tummy tuck without a drain, this open space is closed down with extra sutures which takes time and does add to the cost of the operation. Even though a drain might not be used, there is a small chance that fluid can still accumulate and have to be tapped later. When doing a tummy tuck with a drain, it will stay in for 7 to 10 days. There is about a 1/3 chance later that some fluid will still accumulate and have to be tapped.
Having done tummy tucks both ways, I have seen numerous cases where fluid still had to be tapped later whether a drain was placed or not. Unless a patient is possessed about not having a drain, I will use a drain most of the time. When a patien is opposed to a drain, I will use extensive plication sutures and extra OR time to perform it. That will add about a one-half hour to the cost of the operation.
Dr. Barry Eppley