Childbirth is a beautiful thing. But it does wreak havoc on many women’s abdominals, stretching and distorting the skin and muscle past the point where diet and exercise can help. For women who want their flat tummies back, an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck has long been the go to procedure. And though extremely effective, it does have one of the longer and more painful recoveries of any cosmetic procedure which, according to Dr. Christine Hamori of Duxbury, MA, has been a big deterrent for many of her patients. Particularly new moms who can not take two weeks off from raising their child. But now, there is the drainless tummy tuck procedure that not only drastically reduces post op pain, but actually helps to speed up recovery.
Drainless = Painless?
“The one deterrent to tummy tucks for most patients is the recovery.” says Dr. Hamori. Historically, surgeons would advise patients to stay in bed for the first 3-4 days, take at least two weeks off work and refrain from exercising for anywhere from 4-6 weeks. Which is a pretty scary proposition for many women especially new moms who are the ones really needing the tummy tuck. But now, there’s a new technique called the drainless tummy tuck that severely reduces a patient’s recovery time and her post op pain. It’s a combination of a long lasting anesthetic called Exparel with a new suturing technique that allows the surgeon to forgo using a drain.
During your drainless tummy tuck, Dr. Hamori will inject Exparal, a non narcotic anesthetic, about half way through your procedure. It will give you about 72 hours of pain control so that you are up and moving right away which helps to prevent blood clots, makes you feel better about yourself and causes your swelling to go down faster as it mobilizes your fluids. “When we usually do a tummy tuck the old fashioned way,” says Dr. Hamori, “we kind of just pull down the skin, and pop a drain in to prevent the skin from coming away from the tissues so fluid won’t form.” The drain would be taken out after about 7 days, but during that time, the patient had to walk around with a plastic tube coming out of her skin that got caught on things and had to be hung up in the shower. It was a pain. But how does a surgeon avoid the drain without running the risk of a seroma developing? By using a new suturing technique called quilting or progressive tension.
Dr. Hamori describes it as being like a window shade: a surgeon lifts up the skin of the abdomen and then pulls it down little by little, placing sutures to attach each fold on the way down. “ The big advantage is that we can take more skin out because we can pull as we can go. And it gives you a better waist, a better contour. And since there’s no space, what we call dead space, there’s no little area or pockets where fluid can form.” Which means that there’s no need for a drain.
Patients recover faster without the drain because they can move better. Dr. Hamori has been performing the drainless tummy tuck for about 5 years and it has really changed her practice. Patients are so surprised and ecstatic about their speedy recovery that they’re telling their friends to get one. And through the surgery may take a bit longer than the traditional tummy tuck, cosmetically, the results look better. “It pulls everything down like a nice tight t-shirt.”