The following post from our forum is from a woman who had a tummy tuck 8 weeks ago and now has serious complications. He doctor may have removed her surgical drains too soon and now she has a hernia, a seroma, is tired all the time, has swelling and a possible infection. She is very worried and is wondering what to do.

Date: 10/11/2011 Submitted by: StephanieTummy Tuck Surgeon Removed Surgical Drains Too Soon? Result: Bad Complications

Hello. I had a full tummy tuck August 18th, about 7 to 8 weeks ago. My Doctor pulled my drainage tube on day 6, & I was still draining over 100 cc’s of blood, even with clots during this time. I asked him to leave the drainage tube in because I’ve read that you should wait until the fluid is yellowish, or clear, and is under 20 cc’s. But, it was Labor Day weekend, and he was going out of town. So, he asked his nurse, IN FRONT OF ME, if she would be in town. She said no. So my Doctor pulled it. He said if he left it in longer than 6 days I could get an infection.

Well, I imediatly started to fill up. I called his office &they sent me to his back up Surgeon, who drained 2 cups of blood with a needle. I had a fever when I went in. So, he placed me on 2 strong antibiotics. The Doc told me I had more fluid, but to see my Doc when he came back in town for more drainage. I was to weak and he knew it. My fever continued for 10 days in total.

When my Doc came back into town. My stomach on a Thursday was hanging over my private area. He told me to come in the following Monday and he would “suck it out” that it was much faster this way. This scared me to death because I was weak, already in a lot of pain. And I had terrible headaches, and constant fevers.

I ended up in the ER that Sat. They did a CT & told me that I NOW have a hernia, plus a serona that measured 20 cm by 14. The er doc told me it was the size of my entire stomach. Well, I guess they forwarded my notes to my Surgeon. He called me Mon morn & told me NOT TO EAT, that he was going to put me out ” because he knew I was sensitive, was his reason” and to come in in 6 hours and he was going to suck out the fluid. Well, I did exactly what he told me. When I arrived he said the procedure would only take 10 minutes. But I was in the operating room over an hour. He is out of town again. And I have filled up again.

I’m worried. I don’t have a fever. But my legs have burned and I’m really tired ever since I had the fluid sucked out. I was wondering if I could have something seriously wrong with me. Could I die from this? Do I have an infection? I went to see his nurse, because he’s out. She put me on water pills saying that my hanging stomach may be water….I’ve been taking these pills 7 days now, & my stomachs getting bigger. Its starting to burn inside. And I’m so tired. What should I do? Thanks


Date: 10/11/2011 Submitted by: Tanner


Wow! Sorry to hear that. That’s probably one of the worst surgical drain related complications that I have heard.

Now I can’t give you any medical or legal advice, but here are some thoughts. (Remember, nothing here is medical advice. I don’t want to steer
you the wrong way).

– Leaving the surgical drain in for longer than 6 days could give you an infection? I guess that’s true, but I would think that you could get an
infection anytime the surgical drains are in. I have never heard that 6 days is a magical number. If you look at the tummy tuck forum and sort the category Colum for surgical drains you will find many cases where surgical drains have remained installed for several weeks. From your writing it sounds like your doctor just used that as an excuse to pull it so he go out of town. As far a pulling it when it is still draining over 100 cc’s of blood (with clots), the decision is probably up to the doctor’s discretion, but it sure sounds fishy.

– It sounds like you have been bouncing around from the surgeon (who travels a lot), his nurse, his backup surgeon, the er doctor and whoever else. I would find (if you don’t already have one) a family doctor could take control over your medical issues. He could also provide another and
independent second opinion to your surgeon.

– To tell if you have an infection, go to doctor. He is the only one that can tell for sure. He may culture the fluid to find out exactly what’s going on and treat you accordingly. Here are some general signs of an infected surgical incision (info only).

General Signs Of An Infected Surgical Incision
1. Feeling of tiredness and lack of energy that won’t go away and does not get better each day following surgery.
2. Fever with chills. A low-grade fever (100 F or less) is common in the days following surgery, a fever of 101 or more should be reported to the
3. Loss of appetite, headache.
4. Hot Incision. An infected incision may feel hot to the touch.
5. Hardening of the incision.
6. Puffy or swollen appearance of the incision.
7. Increasing redness at the incision area or redness that won’t go away with time.
8. Foul smelling green, white, yellow, blood tainted, thick, chunky drainage. (take your pick)
9. Increase of pain or pain that won’t subside with time.
10. Skin Changes at the incision area. Rashes, bumps, raw looking, lumpy, ripples or swollen.

– When (if) you go to a family doctor to take charge of your medical treatment and well being, I would write down and document every detail of
your ordeal and give a copy of it to the doctor. That way nothing is left out or forgotten and it becomes part of your medical record.

– After you have recovered, you may want to look into whether your surgeon made the right decisions and acted accordingly.

As to.. “I was wondering if I could have something seriously wrong with me. Could I die from this? Do I have an infection?
Only a doctor can tell you. I would find a good one as quickly as possible.

Good luck.