The Surgeon Minute

TissuGlu and a Drainless Tummy Tuck

TissuGlu and a Drainless Tummy Tuck

There’s a new tool in the operating room, and it’s one that could be a game changer when it comes to the tummy tuck. For most patients seeking a tummy tuck, one of the biggest fears is the recovery with its dreaded drains. They have been a necessary “evil” for patients, since they prevent major complications during recovery at the price of discomfort and annoyance. For many patients, the day of the drain may be over.

A new technology could make drains obsolete for most patients. It’s a product that some surgeons were skeptical of in the beginning, but board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Restifo is a believer in TissuGlu for a drainless tummy tuck.

TissuGlu – Updating the Abdominoplasty Procedure

A tummy tuck is a big operation with a long recovery time. In short, the procedure is aimed at rejuvenating the female abdomen, specifically when it comes to the abdominal muscles. The muscles will stretch during pregnancies and even weight gain. Not always will they stretch back. When they don’t, think of a rubber band that has lost its elasticity. The abdominal muscles are now loose and no amount of crunches will bring them back.

Once the muscles are brought back together surgically, extra skin and tissue are removed to properly contour the “new” abdomen. The remaining tissue is then laid down over the muscles and the operation is complete – mostly. The final step has up until very recently always involved drains.

When the abdominal tissue is laid back down on the newly tightened muscles, there exists a space between them where fluid collects. This space will close over time, but before that can occur, it needs to be fluid-free to avoid complications. Drains are traditionally left in this space so that the fluid can drain out through tubes that exit the body and collect in a device the patient wears during this stage of recovery.

Avoiding fluid accumulation with a drainless tummy tuck.

Patients fear and complain about the drain. They have to monitor the amount of fluid coming out, be careful when moving around, and, honestly, have to deal with the anxiety of tubes coming from their bodies. This fear may become a thing of the past because of a new twist on a familiar product – glue for tissues. “I have to say it’s been a game changer,” says Restifo. He says he had his doubts when he first heard about the TissuGlu product, but he agreed to give it a shot.”When someone said to me we have a product that will allow you to do an abdominoplasty without drains, I sort of rolled my eyes and said, ‘Really?.” Restifo says now he looks at the product like super glue, except for surgery.

New Solution for Drain Concerns

Restifo says for years he has tried to find a solution to the problem of drains but without any luck. Restifo says patients don’t like drains, and often for good reason. “They have to be emptied and they are hard to hide under clothing and sometimes they hurt when coming out.” Restifo says drains can be flat out gross. “The whole idea of drains is kind of icky because people don’t know what’s going to come out of it – like blood or pus.”

Drainless tummy tuck results.

Restifo says TissuGlu eliminates the need for a messy drain. When the tissue layer of the abdomen is laid down across the muscles, surgeons can use TissuGlu to “glue” the two together, instead of let them come together on their own over time. “The skin is attached down to the muscle and you don’t need drains,” explains Restifo. He says the procedure works in many candidates. “Without the pocket where the fluid would accumulate, where the drains used to sit, the fluid has no where to go, so your body just reabsorbs the fluid.”

Who Benefits from a Drainless Tummy Tuck

This isn’t the first time Dr. Restifo has tried a new solution to eliminate the use of drains following a tummy tuck. “I have tried progressive tension sutures and quilting stitches and then I tried using one drain and none of these turned out to be satisfactory solutions to the problems.” Restifo says the TissuGlu is perhaps the first breakthrough to eliminating the drain that he has seen that really benefits patients. “They are so much happier not dealing with the hassle of drains.”


Restifo does caution that studies are still ongoing related to the use in heavier patients. As of now, a drainless tummy tuck work really well for some, but isn’t the ideal solution for others. He says larger patients tend to make more fluid during a tummy tuck.

Overall, Restifo says the benefits of a drainless tummy tuck are proving to be a real benefit in terms of comfort, and perhaps even pain management. For those reasons, he’s on board. “Now, when I look at my schedule and I see some abdominoplasties, I tell myself, ‘Don’t be brainless, go drainless.'” says Restifo, with a smile.

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