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What are Surgical Drains, and Will I Need One?

Today’s blog will discuss surgical drains. What are surgical drains, and when are they used during and after surgery? Many patients who see us for our less-invasive tummy tucks and breast procedures ask us if they will require a drain. Drains are used to help lessen and possibly prevent a seroma from forming after your procedure.

A seroma is a fluid accumulation that occurs under the skin. This fluid formation can cause various, less-serious complications after surgery. Despite seromas being a less-serious and more manageable complication, they are not fun to deal with.

Seromas, if left undiscovered, can eventually lead to the skin incision opening after surgery, requiring additional management. Seromas, once discovered, can often be managed by draining, either on a one-time basis or by inserting a seroma catheter (a small drain the size of an I.V. catheter) after the procedure to allow the fluid to escape. This also allows the cavity holding the fluid to eventually close.

Not all seromas are discovered, and not all seromas cause problems. Those that are discovered can easily be managed, but the resulting incision issues can require management by you, a friend, or a family member at home.

Our techniques reduce the need for surgical drains

Many surgeons use surgical drains for all of their breast reductions and breast lifts. Almost all surgeons use drains with their tummy tucks. Sometimes, they use multiple drains.

Here at North Texas Cosmetic Surgery, we rarely use drains during any breast procedure, and we use drains only 33% of the time during our less-invasive tummy tucks.

The need for a drain is assessed at the time of your surgery. Because we use liposuction with our tummy tucks, the liposuction incisions below the tummy tuck incision allow fluid to drain. Sometimes, though, these small liposuction incisions can close before all of the fluid trapped below the skin drains out after your procedure. If this occurs, we can place a small seroma catheter into the seroma cavity to allow this fluid to drain until the seroma cavity closes.

Even when drains are used, they may not always prevent small seroma cavities, although they can dramatically lessen the chance of a seroma occurring.

If you need a drain, don’t worry

Are there risks to drains? Sure, as with any device or procedure, risks can occur. Sometimes, drains can get blocked, and they quit allowing the fluid to be released from the seroma. Since the drain is running from a nonsterile environment to a sterile area, sometimes, although rarely, infections can occur.

That is why we at North Texas Cosmetic Surgery will place you on an antibiotic as long as your drain remains. Your drain is removed when it begins draining less than a certain amount of fluid in a day. Removing surgical drains usually causes minimal discomfort.

Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with Dr Alan Greemberg.