After tummy tuck surgery, most plastic surgeons will place drains help remove remaining fluid that is left in the abdominal area. This is important to ensure that no infections occur and that the area begins to heal properly. These drains need to remain in place for at least a week after the surgery, though some doctors recommend up to two weeks. The amount of time the drain must remain in place is dictated by how much fluid it is draining per day, not necessarily by a standard length of time.
After a surgery like a tummy tuck, when fat and skin are removed from the body, the area normally becomes inflamed, simply the disturbance and manipulation of tissue. In addition, fluid is likely to build up not only around the incision site, but also in every area that was affected by the tummy tuck. In order to mitigate this problem, a surgeon will insert a small, clear tube into the body; this tube then connects to a bulb or bag that collects the fluid. This keeps swelling to a minimum and speeds up the healing process. Each bulb or bag needs to be emptied several times a day, not only to allow for more fluid to be drained, but also because the negative space caused by an empty drain actually improves the draining process.
Do not be alarmed if one drain seems to be collecting more fluid than another drain, or even if one seems to collect nothing, while the other collects a lot. Both of these situations are perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.
For the week to two weeks that these drains are in place, it is important to keep the area as dry and clean as possible, as this will stave off infection and any other complications that may occur.
The Number of Drains
How many drains a patient has will depend on the patient’s body and how extensive the tummy tuck was. Some women have only one drain, while others may have up to three. Before having a tummy tuck, it is important to discuss with the doctor how many drains he or she may place, and how long the surgeon expects them to remain in the body. Though most women find that a drain can be easily concealed beneath clothing, these drains may be an impediment when it comes to returning to work or to normal life. The doctor can tell the patient how long the drains will remain in the body, and will continually check in with the patient to see what kind of progress is being made.
When Will Drains Be Removed
Most patients’ drains remain in the body between seven and ten days after surgery, though some patients may be able to have them removed after three to five days. Doctors will monitor how much fluid is draining from each area, and when the drains are no longer relieving a large amount of fluid, the doctor will remove the drain.
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