The Surgeon Minute

Patients Are Digging the Drainless Tummy Tuck

Patients Are Digging the Drainless Tummy Tuck

Who among us wouldn’t like a flatter stomach? A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure to remove the excess skin and fat from your abdomen that is the inevitable result of childbirth and age. However, many women are reluctant to get a tummy tuck because it has always required a long recovery period. Until now.

Dr. Ned Snyder IV of Austin, TX discusses the drainless tummy tuck, a fresh take on an old procedure, that has his patients rushing to hop up on the operating table.

What is a Drainless Tummy Tuck?

Until very recently, when a plastic surgeon performed an abdominoplasty – whether it was a full tummy tuck or a mini-tummy tuck – he or she would need to place drains in the abdomen. Typically, two drains were used, one at each end of the incision, to literally drain out the fluid that would accumulate following surgery. These drains might stay in place for anywhere from 2-3 weeks. They were cumbersome, annoying and, occasionally, uncomfortable.

Tummy tuck drains.

With the drainless tummy tuck, however, the surgeon may use either a type of “glue” for tissues to seal up those that have separated in the abdomen, or use a suture technique that “quilts” the tissue back together. “The impact on patient satisfaction is tremendous. You really realize how much people dislike having drains,” explains Dr. Snyder.

Where Does the Fluid Go?

Why does fluid develop following an abdominoplasty? During surgery, the surface skin and tissues of the abdomen are loosened, pulled tight and then trimmed to give you the flat, rejuvenated stomach of your youth. This process leaves a space between the surface tissues and the deeper tissues of the abdomen that takes a couple of weeks to heal. As you begin to return to your normal life, standing and walking, gravity causes the fluids that naturally develop as your tissues heal to move down and collect in the lower abdomen. This fluid accumulates faster than your lymphatic system can remove it, so something needs to be done to help your body remove the fluid. Drains are one option. Another is to have the surgeon place a needle in the empty space and remove the excess fluid. This is typically what is done when a seroma develops.

The drainless tummy tuck techniques help seal the top tissues to the deeper tissues so that there is no space for fluid collection. In short, it kind of jump starts the healing process and prevents gravity from overwhelming your lymphatic system. Your body will still produce fluid, but it can easily be eliminated by the lymph nodes so there is no need for drains. The tissue glue or quilting technique seals the space and defeats gravity.

Why Patients Hate Drains?

Drains are possibly the number one reason why patients waiver when considering a tummy tuck. Why? It’s partly psychological. Drains make patients feel like the recovery lasts longer because:

  • Drains are cumbersome
  • They can be uncomfortable
  • They are annoying
  • They are a hassle: patients have to go through the process of emptying them and writing down the amounts that come out of them
  • Patients don’t feel normal when they are back in clothes because they need to accommodate these drains that stick out of the sides
  • It’s hard to get back to work etc. when you can’t wear your regular work clothes

Faster Recovery with Drainless Tummy Tuck

There are many pros to the drainless tummy tuck (no mess, no fuss), but the biggest is probably the fact that when you have a drainless tummy tuck, your recovery is faster. Gone are the days of 4-6 weeks of limited movement. Not having to deal with drains allows patients to not only feel normal, but to actually get back to their normal routines faster. Patients who have a drainless tummy tuck are able to wear normal clothes almost immediately and return to work quicker which is huge boon, especially for moms.

Drainless tummy tuck before and after.

Drainless Tummy Tuck & a Mommy Makeover

An abdominoplasty is usually one of the main components of the Mommy Makeover procedure, which is a combination of procedures to restore a woman’s body after pregnancy. It typically involves a full abdominoplasty along with a breast lift, breast lift with augmentation, breast augmentation or breast reduction. However, most moms who want a Mommy Makeover do not have the time to put aside their job of being a mom and recover for 6 weeks. The drainless tummy tuck has thus  been a real game changer, allowing mothers who still have young children to get their rejuvenated body back with limited stress on the family.

Bottom line, not having drains makes patients happy. “I like the drainless tummy tuck because of the rapid recovery and the patient satisfaction of not dealing with the drain is much higher,” says Dr. Snyder.

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