The following question from our forum is from a woman with concerns about the surgical drains used in her panniculectomy operation. A panniculectomy is similar to a tummy tuck operation except the surgeon does not tighten the abdominal muscles, does not use liposuction and the skin edges are not as undermined. It simply removes whatever skin overhangs the waistline.

Date: 11/11/2010 Submitted by: Carolyn

I am having a panniculectomy on Jan 7th and am scared out of my mind about the drains. I have no sense of smell, so I will not be able to detect an odor. I also find it very hard to move around and am very squeamish. Can you calm my fears in any way. I had lap band, and have lost 150 lbs. with 100 more to go, but the fat and skin around my abdomen is making it hard to move and walk. This is the only way to get rid of it. They will not be cutting through muscle. Just skin and fat. They will be removing about 25lbs from me. Do you think I can handle this alone? Will I be able to wear clothes, do stairs?



Date: 11/11/2010 Submitted by: Tanner


Congratulation on your weight loss. Feels good doesn’t it? Getting rid of the extra skin will feel even better.

Why are you afraid of the surgical drains? They are nothing more than an annoyance. They don’t hurt. They just look weird, but you get used to them. Looking back, I found that portion of my recovery to be the most fascinating part. I found the whole process of using the surgical drains interesting. Before I had my operation I was clueless about them.

As far as your sense of smell goes you shouldn’t need it. I don’t remember trying to smell my drain fluid at all. The only reason you may wish to do so would be if you suspect an infection, but you can detect that in other ways. You don’t need your sense of smell.

I’m not sure what you are squeamish about. If it’s having to look at the little drain bags full of blood you could always place them in some sort of bag or wrap them so the drain fluid is not visible all day long.

With regard to handling it alone, wearing clothes and doing stairs. That will depend on you, your age, attitude, physical condition and such. I can only tell you from my experiences.

I did my operation alone. I had to hire a nurse for the first 24 hour after surgery but after that I had no problem taking care of myself as well as my dog. You just MOVE A LOT SLOWER. You do have to plan well and be prepared before the operation (especially if you live alone).

Going up and down stairs was not a problem for me because I live in a single level house. I think I would have been able to handle it though (the old one step at a time routine) with a good hand rail to hold on to. I would plan on
using extra care going up and down the stairs. Maybe even practice how you would do it before hand.

Sure you can wear clothes. That shouldn’t be a problem. Just make sure they are not tight and binding in the mid-section area. You should have plenty of your old or transitional clothing that will fit. Again, just plan ahead.
Remember you will be wearing a compression garment continuously.

Good luck and I hoped I calmed some of your fears.

Best regards,