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A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen. If you are interested in a tummy tuck, you might have some questions about the recovery process. For example, “drains” are common when discussing an abdominoplasty, but what does that mean?

Image of a model showing their before and after results of a tummy tuck.

Why Are Drains Often Necessary After a Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Many tummy tucks require the placement of drains for a few days post-surgery. A drain is a small tube that is temporarily attached to the body after surgery with sutures. These drains remove excess fluid and blood from the body to aid in healing and reduce swelling or inflammation. Without the drain, the fluid may otherwise accumulate at the surgery site and cause complications.


Ultimately, drains are necessary to help prevent seromas from developing. A seroma is a sterile collection of fluid under the skin, typically at a surgical incision site. A seroma often looks like a small lump and can feel tender or sore. 

While a small seroma is not dangerous, a procedure may be necessary for removal in the rare case that a large seroma forms.

Tips for Tummy Tuck Surgery Aftercare

While you have drains, you should:

  • Avoid the use of scented soaps
  • Not use old sponges or washcloths
  • Use antibacterial soap products on your hands
  • Empty the drain pouch daily (at least)
  • Record the amount of drainage each day
  • Carefully wash around the drain daily  with clean hands

When you have drains, you are typically asked to refrain from baths. Clean running water from a shower is preferred.

Some drains can be removed accidentally when they get too heavy or are pulled by mistake. That is why you must empty your drain pouch frequently and keep it close to your body. Some people purchase bandage tape from their local drug store to pin the bag closer to them. If you do this, be careful when removing the tape not to remove the entire drain accidentally.

Pay attention to the color of the liquids in your drain. Abnormal types of drainage could be a sign of an infection and should be reported to your doctor.

Interested in Learning More?

Dr. Hiatt is board certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), which ensures that he has the training and experience to provide a safe and effective procedure. He is also a member of the prestigious American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and The Aesthetic Society (ASAPS). To schedule your consultation with Dr. Hiatt, please call (480) 844-1410 or fill out our online consultation form

We look forward to helping you achieve the appearance you desire!