It’s safe to say that plastic surgery patients aren’t fond of surgical drains used by many surgeons following tummy tuck procedures. Patients travel from Missoula and even Bozeman, MT, for tummy tuck surgery at our practice because we rarely use drains. The question about drains is one of the most common things asked on sites such as RealSelf by people considering abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck.
If you’re surprised that there is such a thing as a “drainless” tummy tuck, you’re not alone. For years surgical drains were a necessary annoyance that helped prevent the accumulation of fluid in the space between the skin and muscle following a tummy tuck. That buildup of fluid could lead to a complication called seromas. In this blog post, I’ll explain the technique we use that enables us to avoid having to insert drains.
Progressive Tension Sutures
A seroma is the most common complication following tummy tuck surgery, and traditionally, drains have been used to prevent them. They aren’t necessarily dangerous when treated, but they can delay recovery, require additional treatment, and increase costs. There is also the risk of infection.
But post-op drain maintenance—which involves cleaning the drains of blood and fluid a couple of times each day for about a week—is not a pleasant task. Drainless tummy tucks combine liposuction with a traditional tummy tuck using a layered suturing technique that is often called the “quilting” technique. Because the need for drains is created by the space where blood and fluid can pool after surgery, the specialized technique involves making internal sutures in a way that pulls together tissues and closes spaces.
When performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon trained to use progressive tension sutures, drainless tummy tuck procedures are safe and effective. A study involving 400 patients published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal not only concluded that using quilting sutures effectively minimized the risk of a seroma, but the authors also wrote they believe the use of drains would become obsolete. That hasn’t occurred yet, however, because many plastic surgeons don’t have the training needed to perform the “no-drain” tummy tuck method.
Combining Tummy Tucks With Other Procedures
Even though many patients get abdominoplasty as a standalone surgery, it’s commonly included as part of a comprehensive body contouring operation typically called a Mommy Makeover. The operation is popular with women whose bodies have undergone dramatic changes after having children. Besides having excess abdominal skin or protruding bellies that can’t be improved through exercise or dieting, patients’ breasts often sag and lose volume. Breast enhancement procedures such as a breast lift with implants combined with a tummy tuck and liposuction can truly transform a woman’s shape.
You can see the difference a tummy tuck can make by viewing before-and-after photos in our gallery featuring some of our actual patients. If you want to discuss if a tummy tuck is right for you, contact us using the online form to request a consultation at our Kalispell, Montana, practice, or call us at (406) 756-2241 to schedule an appointment.