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Drains After Plastic Surgery: What Patients Should Understand

By Constance M. Barone, M.D. on November 08, 2014

A woman's lower torso and hipsDr. Constance Barone has helped countless patients in the greater San Antonio region, answering all of their questions about advanced surgery and helping them get the look that they've always wanted. One of the most popular surgeries for enhancing overall body shape and contour is tummy tuck surgery (abdominoplasty), ideal for loose skin and stretchmarks around the love handles and lower stomach area.

Many patients who undergo tummy tuck will require surgical drains after surgery. Let's go over some of the basics when it comes to surgical drains and their proper uses.

What are surgical drains?

Surgical drains are small tubes that are placed into the treatment areas following surgery. They are meant to help with fluid removal as patients heal after a surgery is performed. Surgical drains are most common after undergoing tummy tuck surgery, but they may be placed following other kinds of surgeries as well depending on the needs of the patient and the recommendations of the surgeon.

Why are surgical drains placed after certain body contouring surgeries?

Following a surgery, fluid will accumulate in the area that has been operated on. This is common after all kinds of surgeries and part of your body's natural healing response. Draining the fluid helps reduce swelling and prevents infection from occurring in the treated area.

Are drainage tubes comfortable?

Drainage tubes are a little uncomfortable, but not in an unbearable way. The mild irritation and discomfort of the drainage tubes is manageable and acceptable given how important they are for preventing infection and improving patient healing overall.

Monitoring Fluid from the Drains

Patients will be asked to carefully monitor the color of the fluid that is drained and the amount of fluid. Drainage tubes should generally be drained every six hours. Generally the fluid is clear to reddish or pinkish in color, though whitish fluid is also common. The amount of fluid removed will vary, though patients should notice a gradual decrease in the amount of fluid drained as they heal.

Any issues with fluid drainage in terms of amount or color should be reported to the practice as soon as possible.

How long will I have my drainage tubes in place?

Most patients will have their surgical drains in place for a week to a week and a half. Sometimes patients will require additional time if the amount of fluid draining from the tubes is still relatively high.

In some cases, patients may have one of their surgical drains removed while another remains behind to address additional fluid buildup.

Drainage Tube Removal: What to Expect

The process for removing the drainage tubes is relatively straightforward, and the removal will take place during one of the post-surgical follow-up visits at our practice. Anesthetic is usually not administered for the removal process, though may be depending on the needs of the patient. Patients can expect some pinching and tingling as the drainage tubes are carefully extracted.

Speak with a Skilled Plastic Surgeon About Your Treatment Options

If you would like to learn more about surgical drains and your many different options for body contouring and sculpting, be sure to contact our cosmetic plastic surgery center today. Dr. Barone and her entire team look forward to meeting you in person and helping you understand all of your options for advanced aesthetic enhancement.

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San Antonio Office

9502 Huebner Rd
Bldg 2, Ste 202
San Antonio, TX 78240

All Hours Directions (210) 614-0400