What are tummy tuck surgical drains? They are flexible plastic tubes that are inserted into the body to drain pus, blood or other fluids from the surgical wound area. For my operation they were installed by the surgeon during the surgery and were removed one week later.

Surgical Drains

As a result of all of the surgical cutting and suturing that is done during the operation there is a certain amount of internal bleeding that occurs. This blood tends to run “down hill” towards the groin area (and yes there is a certain amount of swelling in that area). To remove this blood and other fluids from the body, during surgery they poke a hole just above the groin area and insert a length of plastic tubing. For my operation they inserted two drains a few inches apart. I would guess that the tubing goes into the body for a depth of about four to six inches (at least that’s what I think I remember when they pulled them out). The total length of the tubing was about 4-5 feet with the other end connected to a flexible plastic container with a drain port on it. During recovery, the drain is measured for the amount of fluid collected, then drained (with the bloody fluid being discarded down the toilet) every four hours. Every day the amount of fluid collected would slowly decrease. It took 6 days until they slowed enough that the surgeon determined they could be removed.

Surgical Drain Tubes

Surgical drain tubes are flexible silicone tubes that are inserted into your abdomen through a specially made incision during the tummy tuck operation. These tubes connect to clear flexible bulbs. The bulbs, when compressed, provide suction for excess fluid that accumulates during recovery at home. (Each time you empty them, you squeeze them before your seal them. This creates a negative pressure in the bulbs that helps a bit with the drainage.)

Monitoring the Surgical Drains

The amount of pus, blood or other drain fluids after a tummy tuck varies with each person and operation. For my tummy tuck and lateral thigh lift operation I was told to measure, record the amount of fluid collected then empty the drains every four hours. My drain bulbs had measurement markings on the sides to read the amount of fluid collected. I was then to bring the surgical drain log with me for my next follow-up visit. The surgeon then reviews the log and determines if the drainage has stopped or slowed enough to remove the surgical drain Tubes.

My Daily Surgical Drainage Rates
Left Drain
Right Drain
Total (CCs)Cup
Night of Surgery651001650.7
Day 11501933431.5
Day 2901001900.8
Day 3 – First Follow-up Visit53531060.4
Day 45139900.4
Day 52827550.2
Day 6 – Drains Removed
Second Follow-up visit

Sometimes the Surgical Drains Clog

At times the surgical drain tubing may clog with some type of discharge from the body. To remove the clog I was instructed to “milk” or push the fluid in the tube towards the container by squeezing the tubing between two fingers while pushing towards the container. Fortunately my surgical drains did not clog.

Clogged Surgical Drains

Clogged surgical drains don’t happen that often, but they do happen. Surgical drains can clog at three locations; clogged surgical drain tube inside the body, clogged surgical drain tube outside of the body and clog at the connection of the tube to the bulb.

  • Clogged surgical drains that happen inside your body.
    When a surgical drain tube clogs at the opening of the tube or along the tubing inside of your body there is not much you can do but call your doctor. I would imagine that the doctor has a method of removing the obstruction through use of a vacuum pump, back-flowing fluids or other means but I don’t really know. Does anybody have any information on this? Please advise us through use of the feedback form below. Thank you.
  • Clogged surgical drain tubes that happen outside your body.
    When a surgical drain tube clogs somewhere along the tubing outside of your body the problem is easy to fix. Simply squeeze the tubing at the point of the obstruction to try to break it apart, then push it towards the drain bulb by milking the tubing (pinching the tubing while simultaneously pushing in the direction of the bulb)
  • Clogged surgical drain where the clog is located at the connection of the bulb to the tubing.
    When a surgical drain clogs at this location. Try pinching and milking first. If that fails you may have to disconnect the tubing from the bulb and clear the obstruction.

Why Use Surgical Drains

The main purpose of surgical drains used with surgery is to remove from the body the pus, blood or other fluid that sometimes develops after surgery.  Removing the fluid reduces the risk of complications after tummy tuck surgery such as a seroma or fistula. More importantly, this fluid could be a source of infection.

How to Empty Surgical Drains

The surgical drain container attached to the end of the tubing is a clear flexible bulb with markings on it’s side and a drain port with a “plug in” cap. To empty the drain first milk the fluid in the tubing toward the bulb to ensure you measure all of the drained fluid. Measure the amount in the bulb by holding it upright and taking the reading. Unplug the drain cap, invert and drain into the toilet by squeezing and compressing the bulb flat. After the bulb is empty insert the cap while the bulb is still compressed flat to make a new vacuum.

Tips for Emptying Surgical Drains

  1. Thoroughly wash your hands, dry and put on a pair of surgical gloves.
  2. Position the surgical drain bulb lower than the wound area. This will help prevent fluid from draining back into the wound when you open the plug and break the suction of the bulb.
  3. Do not touch the tip of the spout or the plug. These are access points for germs to enter your body.
  4. If you cannot read the level of fluid collected on the bulbs exterior surface, carefully pour the fluid from the bulb into a measuring container to obtain an accurate reading.
  5. Record all of your observations including date, time, amount of fluid collected, color and any noticeable odors of the fluids.
  6. When done, flush the fluid down the toilet and dispose of your surgical gloves any materials in a trash bag. Seal the trash bag. Keep pets and children away from the trash bag. Don’t let pets drink from the toilet.

How Do Your Wear Surgical Drains?

The bulb of the surgical drain has a small tab on it with a hole which allows you to pin them to your clothing, bandage or compression garment.

Tummy Tuck Surgical Drain Removal

My surgical drain tubes were removed 6 days after my surgery during one of my follow-up visits (after the amount of fluid put out by the drain falls below 30cc over a 24-hour period for 2 consecutive days, then the drains can be removed). In my case the surgeon simply put one hand against my body at the insertion point and gently pulled the drain tube out. I was surprised to see about 4 – 5 inches of tubing come out of my body (I didn’t know what to expect). It didn’t hurt at all and there was little or no bleeding.

After the Surgical Drains Have Been Removed

After your surgical drains have been removed your body may still have an accumulation of drainage fluids. He is how they got rid of it for me.

6 Days After My Surgery
My surgeon removed my surgical drains.

14 Days After My Surgery
He noticed I had some fluid retention and used a syringe to remove it as follows.

The doctor noticed that it looked like I had some fluid retention or drainage in my midsection (tummy tuck seroma) and decided to drain it. He inserted a “big needle” just below my belly button and drained (sucked out) about ½ cup of red drainage fluid from my belly area. He told me not to look, and I told him I did not want to but I wanted to see the needle and how much it contained after he was done. I was surprised to see so much drainage was still inside me. He said that it was not uncommon and that by draining it the way he did saves my body the trouble of absorbing it and aids in the healing process. Note: When he first brought out the big needle (syringe) needless to say I was a little apprehensive, but because my belly area was still numb I didn’t feel a thing.

22 Days After My Surgery
My surgeon couldn’t tell if I had any more fluid buildup so he Doctor examined me to see if there was anymore drain fluid buildup in my stomach area. He wasn’t sure so he stuck another drain needle into my belly, fished around for a pocket of fluid, but came up “dry”.


  1. What Type of Surgical Drain Is Used For a Tummy Tuck Operation?
    A Jackson Pratt surgical drain or JP Drain (pictured above) was used for my operation to remove fluids from my body.
  2. Why did I need a Surgical Drain?
    To heal faster, reduce pain and swelling and decrease my risk of getting an infection.
  3. How long will I have the Tummy Tuck Drains?
    Typically 5-7 days. There is no set time. When the amount of fluid put out by the drain falls below 30cc over a 24-hour period for 2 consecutive days, then the drains can be removed.
  4. Will I have Surgical Drains after a Tummy Tuck?
    Most likely. Most (but not all) surgeons prefer to install surgical drains for tummy tuck operations to aid the body in removing fluids that may build up and become a source of infection.
  5. What is a Surgical Drain and What is it Used For?
    See above.
  6. What do I do with the blood after I empty the surgical drain?
    Record the amount collected then flush it down the toilet.
  7. Do the surgical drain bulbs have to be placed below the “point of entry” to allow them to drain properly?
    No. Since the bulb is squeezed after it is emptied it creates a slight suction that helps the blood flow from the body.
  8. How often do I have to empty my drains?
    When they get full or every 4 hours or as directed by your surgeon. If the drains become half full, empty them. Do not let them fill up any more than half way because the suction will decrease and they will become less effective.
  9. How do I wear surgical drains?
    Simply pin them to your compression garment or clothing.
  10. When is a Drain Removed?
    Immediately after surgery you will notice the greatest amount of fluid flowing into the surgical drains. With each passing day as the wound begins to heal the fluid will decrease. Generally the drain tubes will be removed from your body when it slows to less than 2 tablespoons of fluid per day.
  11. What Are The Risks Of Having A Surgical Drain?
    If the surgical drain and the penetration point to the body is not kept clean dry and bandaged properly germs may enter your body and cause an infection or if it stays in longer than needed you may get an infection. The tubing may get blocked with blood or other materials preventing the drain from operating. The fluid may have nowhere to go and you may develop a fistula.
  12. What Precautions Should I Take and What Should I Look For When I Have A Tummy Tuck Drain?
    • If possible, try to keep the bulb lower than the wound. This will help prevent the fluid from going back into your body.
    • Do not pull or tug on the bulbs, tubing or stitches.
    • Keep an eye on the surgical drain tubing where it enters your body to make sure it isn’t coming out. It might be a good idea to mark the the tubing where it enters your body with a permanent marker. This will give you a reference point to make it easier to determine if the tubing is coming out.
    • Keep the surgical drain tubing as close to your body as possible and in a fixed location so that it is not flailing about and easy to snag. Tape it, pin it or place it under your compression garment as required.
  13. When Do I Know If There Is Something Wrong With My Surgical Drain?
    Call your doctor if you are experiencing pain at the insertion point of the surgical drain, if the area surrounding the penetration point is red or has excessive swelling, if your drain is leaking or if the drained fluid is yellowish, cloudy or foul smelling. Seek immediate medical attention if if you surgical drain comes out, your stitches come loose, you get a fever, your drain starts filling quickly with bright red blood or suddenly stops working altogether.
  14. What if the Drains Fall Out After Tummy Tuck?
    If your surgical drain tubes fall out don’t worry. The world is not coming to and end.Simply tape absorbent gauze over the drain hole and notify your surgeon. Depending on the amount of time your drains have been installed and the current drainage rate your surgeon may decide to leave them out or install new drains. Some surgeons don’t even use surgical drains for tummy tucks.
  15. How Can Surgical Drains Come Out By Themselves?
    If your surgical drains fall out by themselves after a tummy tuck then you probably did something wrong. You may have been moving around too much, the drain tubes wiggled out by themselves. The drain tubes might have become snagged on something as you moved around. The surgical drain tube stitches might have torn open from excessive movement. It’s up to you to take precautions to keep them in place during your recovery.
  16. What if the Drains Come Out Too Soon after Tummy Tuck?
    If the drains come out too soon after a tummy tuck and your body is still producing excess fluids, the fluids become trapped and may form a seroma and source for a potential infection.
  17. How Can I Tell If My Surgical Drain Is Clogged Or If There is No More Fluid to Drain?
    You can tell if your surgical drain is clogged if..
    – Your surgical drain may be clogged if you see a non-moving dark spot inside of your drain tubing and it does not move.
    – Your surgical drain may be clogged if your drains stop draining unexpectedly.
    – Your surgical drain may be clogged if you have two drains installed and one drains while the other doesn’t.
  18. What Is A No Drain Tummy Tuck
    A no drain tummy tuck is when the surgeon chooses not to install surgical  drains for certain tummy tuck procedures. The determination of whether or not to use surgical drains is left up to the discretion of the surgeon. In general, most surgeons chose to play it safe and install surgical drains for tummy tuck surgery.
  19. Where does the blood go after drainage tubes are removed after a abdominoplasty?
    Hopefully most of the fluid was removed by the surgical drains and the rest of it can be absorbed by you body. If not your surgeon may have to use a syringe to extract the remaining fluid.
  20. 2weeks after my tummy tuck and still draining the same amount of fluids?
  21. Abdominoplasty drain discharge color?
    Dark red blood from drain after tummy tuck?
    Drain tube bright red blood? My surgical drain turned dark red?
    Drain discharge color varies from patient to patient. Most patients seem to observe dark red blood, some with yellowish substances or white chunks.
  22. Alternatives of drains on tummy tuck?
    Some surgeons don’t use any surgical drains for their tummy tuck patients (depending on the circumstances). If fluid builds up it can be removed with a syringe or absorbed by the body.
  23. Average cc drains after tummy tuck?
    Expected output from tummy tuck drains?
    Abdominoplasty typical drainage when going home?
    I could not find any information regarding the average drain rate of tummy tuck surgical drains. I don’t think there is an average available for the patient to compare with. I have listed my surgical drain rates in the above table to give you some point of reference. Read the patient problems with surgical drains to get a better feel for other patients have gone through.
  24. Blood in JP drains after tummy tuck?
    Blood in JP drains is common and expected following a tummy tuck.
  25. Can drainage tubes get infected after tummy tuck?
    Surgical drainage tubes penetrate the body and form an opening for germs and bacteria. Care must be taken by the patient to keep this area clean, protected and free of germs to prevent infection. The drainage tubes themselves don’t get infected, but the patient can.
  26. Can I remove drains after tummy tuck?
    No, only your surgeon should remove your surgical drains after a tummy tuck. The doctor is trained to know how and when to remove your surgical drains.
  27. Can I take my drains off after 2 weeks?
    No. There is not set time to take off surgical drains after a tummy tuck. The will depend on the drain rate and the doctor. Only your doctor should remove the drains.
  28. Can surgical drains cause pain?
    Yes surgical drains can cause pain. Anytime you have something sticking into your body you can have pain. In the case of surgical drains, however, the body penetration point will most likely be numb from the operation for several days or weeks and you will feel no pain. I didn’t.
  29. Can taking a drain out too soon cause death?
    Taking a surgical drain out too soon after a tummy tuck can lead to fluid buildup, which can lead to infection which in extreme cases can lead to serious problems or even death.
  30. Where are the drains connected to in a tummy tuck?
    The end of the drain tube that is sticking into your body is not connected to anything. It is an open ended tubing the surgeon placed in a location where he anticipates that it will collect the greatest amount of excess body fluid resulting from the surgery he just performed. Since the tubing is under a suction from the compressed surgical drain bulb any excess fluid in the general location of the end of the tubing should be sucked into the tubing and transferred to the bulb outside of your body.
  31. Can you get a fever from a surgery drain tube?
    Yes, in  a manner of speaking. A surgical drain tube can provide germs access to your body at the drain tube penetration point. Germs can cause infections. Fevers are a symptom of infections.
  32. Clogged drains after the operation, is this normal?
    Clogged surgical drains is not uncommon after a tummy tuck. Many people experience clogged surgical drains. I did not, but before my operation my nurse did give me instruction on how to clear the clog in case I did get one.
  33. Clothing to accommodate surgical drains?
    I found that I needed no special clothing to accommodate my surgical drains. I didn’t do much traveling in the first six days after my tummy tuck (at which time my drains were removed). For those individuals who have their drains in longer, there are an assortment of tricks that you can use to hide your drains. Some people use fanny packs to hide their drains in. Surgical drain bags (looks like a fanny pack) are also available for just that purpose. Most people are creative enough to hide the drains under their clothing one way or another.
  34. Compression garments for stomach drains?
    I have not heard of any compression garments designed specifically for hiding surgical drains. It is common to pin the surgical drains to the compression garment for carrying purposes.
  35. Do the drains hurt when removed after a tummy tuck? Does pulling out a surgical drain hurt?
    No, surgical drains do not hurt when the are pulled out by the surgeon. You can feel the tubing sliding out of your body but there should not be any pain involved (I didn’t have any pain or discomfort).
  36. Do they give you medication when your drains come out tummy tuck?
    No. They don’t give you medication when removing your surgical drains (at least they didn’t for me). None was needed and it didn’t hurt at all.
  37. Do they stitch the tummy tuck drain holes?
    No they don’t stitch drain holes. No need to. Since the hole is so small, it is self sealing after they pull the tubing out (at least mine was).
  38. Draining excess fluid with needle?
    Draining excess fluid from your body with needle after the surgical drains have been removed is common.
  39. How can I help my drains to stop draining?
    Your body is healing. There is not much you can do to help but follow your doctors post operative recovery instructions and not do anything that will impede the healing process.
  40. How do I take a shower after my drain comes out?
    You should have no problem taking a shower after your surgical drains come out. The hole made by the surgical drain will quickly seal itself and you should be waterproof once again. Just be careful when you wash it not to scrub and it would probably be a good idea to use the antibacterial soap for a while (you bought it, why not use it up?).
  41. How do u feel when they take out the drains?
    You will probably be a little apprehensive waiting in the doctors room and not knowing what to expect but it’s a piece of cake. No pain and it’s really quick. See how they pulled out my surgical drains. I think I remember feeling the tubing inside of me moving as it slithered out. It was an amusing feeling but not painful.
  42. How do you know if fluid develops after drain removal?
    Your doctor will make that determination but if you tap on your lower abdomen (try different areas) and you see or feel a fluid/wave like motion, then it’s likely you have fluid buildup (seroma). You may also try to feel for the fluid of the fluid beneath the skin with your fingers.
  43. How long does it take for the drain holes to heal in a tummy tuck?
    My surgical drain hole(s) sealed up almost immediately after the surgeon pulled out the drain tubing. Only a few droplets of blood were evident. After about five seconds of pressing on it with a gauze it stopped completely. After I got home I removed the bandage that the doctor placed on it and there was only of smudge of blood. I put some Neosporin on it for the next several days and that was it. It did take many months for the round scars to go away though.
  44. How far do you insert a Jackson Pratt drain?
    How far in do surgical drains go?
    I should have paid more attention but I think my drain tubing went into my body to a depth of 4-6 inches. After all, the body is only so thick.
  45. How important are drains following a tummy tuck?
    Surgical drains are a very important part of a tummy tuck operation and the recovery process. Surgical drains remove the fluid buildup in the body and reduces swelling and the risk of infecton.
  46. How long can drain tubes be left in?
    I don’t think there is a maximum time that surgical drains can stay in. It depends on how long you need them, but the longer they stay in the greater the risk of infection (because you have an open path for the germs to enter your body).
  47. How long were your drains in?
    My tummy tuck drains were in for 6 days before they were removed by the surgeon.
  48. How many CCs of drainage is normal on day 6 post tummy tuck?
    I can’t say what is “normal” but my drainage reduced to 8ccs (total for both drains) at which point my doctor removed them.
  49. How much drainage is too much?
    I don’t think anyone can tell you how much drainage is too much. If the drains were filling up too quickly they probably wouldn’t have released you from the hospital or operating facility. I was instructed to record the amount of drainage in each drain every four hours. If I found that the drains were filling up to the top before the four hours I would probably have called my surgeon about it.
  50. How should a surgical drain be measured?
    The surgical drain has markings on it to show how much fluid is contained inside. Simply read and record the measurement then discard the fluid down the toilet.
  51. How to clean surgical drains?
    Surgical drains are a closed system and generally don’t need cleaning. By cleaning the drain you may in fact introduce germs and bacteria into the drain system and into your body. Patients often clean the surface of the skin surrounding the incision where the tube comes out of their body. A mixture of water and peroxide is often used.
  52. If you had drainage tubes in your stomach and filling up with fluid again, how do they drain it?
    The surgeon drains it with a syringe.
  53. Infection drain site JP red swollen
    Infection after drainage tube pulled
    Infections sometimes do occur. Read more about infections.
  54. Is it common for one side to drain less than the other after a tummy tuck?
    Yes, If you have two surgical drains installed for you tummy tuck they will commonly have different drain rates because they are most likely draining different parts of your body. My drain rates were different.
  55. Is it normal for surgical drains to leak 6 days after surgery?
    By leak I assume you mean continue to drain, then the answer is yes. Some drains collect fluid for weeks after surgery.
  56. Is there soreness after a surgical drain is removed?
    The first day after my surgical drain was removed I had a little tenderness at the tubing penetration point but no soreness. The next day the soreness went away.
  57. Where are the drains put in a tummy tuck?
    Surgical drain tubes are generally placed below the incision line (because of gravity) at locations the surgeon determines the fluids will pool or move to. The location of the drain tubing where they entered my body was a few inches below my beltline.
  58. Post surgical drainage containers?
    Post surgical drainage containers (surgical drains) are see through flexible containers designed for capture, storage and measurement of bodily fluids resulting from surgery. They are compressed to provide suction to aid in fluid removal.
  59. Drains site swollen?
    It is common for tummy tuck drain sites to be swollen.
  60. Tummy tuck drains timeline?
    There is no set timeline when it comes to surgical drains.
  61. Tummy tuck needle drainage?
    Needles or syringes are used to drain fluids after the surgical drains have been removed (if needed).
  62. Will my abdomen flatten after drainage?
    Your abdomen may flatten a little because you are removing material from your body but drainage from surgical drains is not the same as a reduction of swelling. Swelling will usually take much longer to subside.
  63. Will there still be swelling after drain tube is taken out after tummy tuck?
    Yes. Swelling may last for many weeks after the drain tubes are removed.
  64. Yellow stuff in drain after tummy tuck? Yellowish substance from drains?
    Discharge and drainage from a tummy tuck is subjective and requires an expert evaluation, but generally appear as follows.
    •Clear yellow fluid – possibly serous fluid
    •Clear, yellow and slightly oily discharge (chicken broth with fat droplets) – possible sign of fat necrosis (liquefied fat)
    •Clear yellow/orange discharge – possible self draining seroma
    •Thicker opaque white or green – possible infection
  65. How many cc required to take out tummy tuck drains?
    Typically after the amount of fluid put out by the drain falls below 30cc over a 24-hour period for 2 consecutive days, then the drains can be removed.
  66. What do tummy tuck drains look like?
    If you have ever seen a Borg on Star Trek with the tubes coming out of their bodies that would be what a tummy tuck drain looks like.

Tummy Tuck Feedback Messages


Sent: Sunday, January 02, 2011
Subject: Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) From A Tummy Tuck

I had a tummy tuck. 3 Days later one of the drains clogged up.The doctor took it out. One week later I had a horrendous case of Deep Vein Thrombosis and had to go to hell and back. I can’t shake the suspicion that the clogged drain was already an indication of thrombosis building up. Marianne


I could see how you would suspect that the clogged drain was an indication of the first stages of Deep Vein Thrombosis. After reading your comment I did a little research on Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

From what I understand, a tummy tuck operation poses the highest risk for developing DVT than any other cosmetic surgery operation and that it is difficult to recognize in the early stages of development.

You say you went to hell and back with your DVT. Could you please explain what happened and what you went through with the DVT? Most people (including me) don’t recognize or understand the seriousness and consequences of developing DVT after a tummy tuck.

I hope you are fully recovered from your ordeal and are happy with the results of your tummy tuck.

Best regards,


Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2010 12:22 AM
Subject: Tummy Tuck Surgical Drain Question

I had my abdominoplasty & herniolasty done on 11/8/2010 ie.17days now. the drain collected still is 22cc. Can the drain be removed now? Will it get accumulated if the drain pipe is removed?


Response – Baby,

I imagine that you are getting pretty tired of lugging the drain around and having to empty it over and over. What a chore! 17 days is a long time to have a surgical drain sticking out of your body.

I assume the 22 cc drain rate you refer to is for a 24 hour period. From what I understand, 30 cc per day and below is a guideline that a surgeon uses to determine when to remove surgical drains after a tummy tuck. Since you had a herniolasty as well, perhaps there are additional considerations.

When does your surgeon say the drain can come out? He is the only one that can (or should) remove it or tell you when it is safe to remove it. Even though you are tired of having it still in there, the longer it’s there the better. It’s there for a reason (reduce risk of infection, prevent other complications such as seroma or fistula).

I am not sure what you mean by “Will it get accumulated if the drain pipe is removed?”. If you are asking if the fluid will start to accumulate and pool in your body, then that will depend on your body and it’s ability to absorb the fluid. Your doctor has the training and experience to best make that determination.

Good luck.


Sent: Friday, August 20, 2010 9:11 PM
I am interested in getting a tummy tuck. I was wondering if the drains hurt? is it hard to go to the bathroom? How long does the drains stay inside you? Do you have to get cut again to get the drains out?


Response – Dominique,
I found the surgical drains to be an interesting part of the tummy tuck experience. I didn’t know anything about them or what to expect before my operation. When I woke up in the recovery room, THERE THEY WERE. Two of them, “plugged into” my body a few inches below my waist.

But to answer your questions, no the surgical drains didn’t hurt at all. At my skn’s surface where they penetrated my body I couldn’t feel anything because that area was numb even long after the drains were removed. I also could not feel the 5 inches or so of tubing that was inside my body. I didn’t know how much of it they put in or where it went.

You might want to check out my surgical drains page https://www.tummytuckformen.com/tummy-tuck-abdominoplasty-surgical-drains.html
and read the feedback comments at the bottom of the page. At least one person experienced some pain with her surgical drains.

Going to the bathroom after the tummy tuck operation and with the surgical drains was no problem for me. You just have to move a lot slower and make sure you have something to hang onto like the nearby tub or sink vanity to steady as you position yourself.

How long do the surgical drains stay inside you? That changes with each individual, the degree of surgery he/she had and the rate of drainage after the surgery. I had to monitor and empty my surgical drains every four hours. When the drainage rate slowed to below 30cc’s over a 24-hour period for 2 consecutive days, then the drains could be removed, but that was up to the discretion of the surgeon. My surgical drains stayed in for 6 days.

Getting the surgical drains removed was easy and there was no “cutting” involved (except for the snipping of a few stitches with a scissor that held the surgical drains in place). At one of my follow-up visits my surgeon simply put one of his hands against my body at the insertion point as a brace and gently pulled the drain tube out. It only took a second. I was surprised to see about 4 – 5 inches of tubing slide easily out of my body. It didn’t hurt at all and there was little or no bleeding.

I hope this answers your questions. Best of luck.



Sent: Friday, August 20, 2010 12:01 AM
After 6 years of having a tummy tuck operation, my mother,67, is experiencing severe complications: not eating regularly, losing weight, chronic constipation pain, * especially on the right side of her stomach where the drainage tubes were placed(stabbing, movement, burning, bloating, pain). What can be done to ease her pains and who should she seek help from at this point?. we’ve taken her to every doctor possible…

Response – Juliann,
Sorry to hear about your mother’s problems. I have never heard of anyone having complications from a tummy tuck operation 6 years later. You state that you have taken her to every doctor possible. What do they say? Do they think it is related to the surgical drains or a complication from the tummy tuck? Or do they think it is something else? The only thing that I can advise you to do is keep trying different doctors. There has to be someone out there who can figure it out.
Good luck.


Sent: Thursday, July 01, 2010 11:48 PM
I had a mini complex abdominoplasty yesterday and had one drain put in. Almost all of my draining has come from tube site in body, what a mess. Doctor didn’t seem alarmed but I don’t see anybody else having this problem.

Response – Chris,
I don’t understand your problem. What is a mess? What makes it complex?

Complex? Who knows? That’s what doc called it. The mess is from the drainage coming out of the drainage tube site, from my skin, only a few drops in actual drain. I have been shoving towels in my shorts. No way to measure it. Maybe he called it complex because I have a kidney transplant inside left hipbone.

Response – Chris,
I see your point. That really would be messy and very inconvenient. Changing out fluid soaked bandages or towels for days or even weeks would “get old” real fast.

I haven’t heard of anyone else having this problem either. I don’t know how often this happens. My drain tube penetration sites were nice and dry.

It sounds like the suction end of the drain tube is not located at the source of the fluid build-up. Of course it is still very early after your surgery. Things may change.

If it continues for a while like this and the drain collects little or no fluid, why not ask your surgeon if it would be advisable for him to “pull out” an inch or two of the drain tube in an effort to reposition the suction end in order to find the right spot and allow it to work properly. If I remember correctly I had about 5 inches of tubing inside of me when my surgeon removed it.

The good thing is that the fluid is coming out of your body. Good luck.

Thanks for responding.  I go back on Monday (yes, a holiday) for pain pump to be removed so I’ll ask then.  Meanwhile I am embarrassed to admit I went and bought Depends!!!!!!


Sent: Sunday, June 27, 2010 10:09 PM
I had a tummy tuck done in my country 6 wks ago, came back to us 3 wks later I still fell liquid in my abdomen, what are the risk, if i don’t take it out. Will my body absorb it or I need to go back to my country and have the doctor to take the liquid out..

Response – Ana,

I could never actually feel the fluid inside me when I had my surgical drains. All I felt was numbness.

If you think you still have fluid inside you it might be a good idea to go to a local US doctor and have it checked out or drained. A local doctor would be quick and convenient (compared to traveling to another country) as well as providing you a second opinion on your condition.

Drain fluids could be a source of infection. Removing the fluid reduces the risk of complications and infections.

As to whether or not you body will absorb the remaining fluid depends on too many factors (the amount of fluid, your body, the wound area, your health..) and only a qualified doctor could tell you after an examination.

Good luck. Tanner


Sent: Saturday, June 19, 2010 7:51 PM
I am 10 day post op full  abdominoplasty. So far so good except these drain tubes giving me fits. The right one is out to point of no more bulb suction and about 2 inches white portion of tube shows and I can see the sutures. I go Mon to doctor to take it out. Is it possible it will keep working itself out and if so how do I take care of treating the hole left behind? It seems that every movement I make is causing it to come out another half inch and pushing it back in I know is not a good idea

Response – Michele,

I can’t give medical advice but since you only have one day until the doctor takes it out why not try to prevent further movement by:
– covering it with your compression garment to secure it in place.
– secure it to your compression garment with a combination of tape/pins

As far as the “hole left behind”, if I remember correctly after the surgeon removed my drain tubes all he did was apply gauze and a little pressure to the hole to seep up any remaining residual fluids then covered it with new gauze and bandage. Over time it heals. I don’t remember an “open hole” ever being a problem.

Good luck. Tanner

Follow-Up: Sunday, June 20, 2010 11:54 PM
Thanks so much Tanner….actually it is the insertion point that was almost out and I could not really secure that flopping around tube without horrific pubic pain and although I did try with nylons day before…I think that was worse when going to the bathroom. Nonetheless….this tube did wiggle itself out Saturday when I stood up off the commode and doc said he would reinforce the other one Monday….although I would really like it out!!! since I have travel plans on Tuesday…..and the ‘hole’ left behind or that little slit….yes, I did just cover with a dry 4 x 4 and very little seepage and doesn’t seem to be staying in my system either….lol….so….I will be post 11 days tomorrow and normal drain tube time seems to tell us 5 to 15 days….and drainage is yellowy/clear as it should be. Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly.


Sent: Friday, June 11, 2010 11:16 AM
I had my right JP drainage tube taken out on Monday June 7, 2010 and my doctor was very upset with me because he thinks it was too soon to have it taken out (the medical assistant took it out that day and he wasn’t in the office) he is afraid as well as I am that the fluid will build up and I will have to get needles stuck in me to get the remaining fluid drained. Is there any way I can just drink a ton of water every day and keep up with exercise and have the remaining fluid flush itself out without having any problems with the fluid building up inside me? I had the drainage tube on the right side in me for two days short of 4 weeks so the medical assistant thinks it was ok for it to be removed but I am still scared to death that it was too soon to be taken out. I had a tummy tuck.

Response – The doctor shouldn’t be upset with you, if anyone, he should be upset with the medical assistant who took it out.

I don’t know, but I would doubt that drinking lots of water and exercising would do what you want in a timely manner or your doctor would have instructed you so.

It sounds like you don’t relish the idea getting stuck with needles to remove the remaining fluid from your body. I had it done and it is not as bad as it sounds. I documented my experience with the needle on this page https://www.tummytuckformen.com/tummy-tuck-abdominoplasty-after-surgery-recovery.html (ref date 12/19/07). The good thing about this is that the area where he will probably stick the needle is still very numb. When he did it to me I did not feel anything. No pain at all. If you have a fear of needles, I would suggest when you go to your appointment tell the doctor that you don’t want to see the needle and be sure to turn your head away when he brings it out. Most likely the fear of the needle (the worrying) is going to cause you more pain than the needle itself. I would try to schedule your next appointment as soon as possible just to get it over with. The less you think about it the better. Good luck.

Best regards, Tanner


Sent: Saturday, June 05, 2010 10:13 AM
Ok, so I had my tummy tuck on May 12, 2010 (almost a month ago now) and I still have the drainage tube in on the right side!!! I’m so frustrated right now, it hurts so badly just sitting with this thing in me!! It stings so bad and it is so uncomfortable, the output is at about 30 cc’s but I really want it taken out immediately!! Also, every time I tell my doctor about something I had read that is a warning sign and should tell him about, he acts like it’s no big deal and it makes me look like I am freaking out over every little thing, so what do I do??


Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 5:05 PM
I had a tummy tuck done two weeks ago, and my drain is still water and blood my doctor thinks this is normal, but I don’t. I think that that is to long a time to keep a drain on and the blood context is too much. Please help!

Response – My tummy tuck drains were removed 6 days after surgery. Two weeks does seem like a long time, but I would think your doctor would know best as to what is normal and what isn’t.

I did a quick internet search and found the following web site which indicates that some tummy tuck surgical drains stay in for as long as 15 days or more so it seems that your situation is not too uncommon.

“Tummy Tuck  Drain Removal
How long you will have the drains in place depends on how much drainage you have. This is one reason you need to keep track of the amount that collects in the bulbs each day. The surgical drains may be removed in as little as 3 to 5 days or as long as 15 days or more, depending upon the amount of fluid you are draining.”

Good luck. Tanner


Sent: Saturday, April 24, 2010 8:05 PM
I had a tummy tuck 2.5 weeks ago, everything went fine I had a drainage tube inserted on my left side upper pubic area, the dr removed my drain 5 days later, the area was a bit red but did not hurt, a scab appeared and finally fell off, the area is now painful to touch and is red, hard and swollen about a half dollar size but the hole is closed up so there is not any drainage. when should I become worried or is this normal to have pain there? I do want to say that it does not hurt unless something touches it.

Response – Sorry for the delay in responding to your question.

When my drains were removed I had the same symptoms as you describe, but I don’t remember having any pain only sensitivity. My drain “penetration points” remained sensitive for a few weeks after the tubes were removed. I kept applying Neosporin and bandages and they eventually healed up nicely.

What you describe sounds like a normal healing process (compared to what I experienced) but depending on the degree of pain you are having and if you see signs of inflammation or infection you might want to call your doctors office and tell them what you are experiencing. They can give you professional advice and put your mind at ease.

Best regards, Tanner


Sent: Saturday, April 10, 2010 8:03 AM
Dear Dr.
I had a tummy tuck operation in lebanon 7 months ago. my dr. didnt install draining tubes at all, when I came back home to Kuwait and after 3 months i started feeling pain and my tummy feels like a hard baseball inside, I went to a doctor in Kuwait and he said this is normal after a tummy tuck operation, it most be blood.

he tied to suck it by a serenge but it was hard to come out so he gave me cream and asked to comeback in one week for another surgery but i was afraid to back..

so please doctor give an advise

Response – I am not a doctor. I am a patient who had a tummy tuck operation.

I cannot advise you on medical matters.

I can just tell you of my personal experiences of what I went through, but I have never heard of anyone not having surgical drains installed for a tummy tuck (but again I am not a doctor).

I never had that pain or “baseball” feeling that you described. I did have a “tightness” feeling with numbness, but that was expected.

Three months after your tummy tuck you got that feeling and your doctor said it was normal and it must be blood? It doesn’t sound normal to me. Also, I could not possibly guess why they gave you a cream or what a cream could do to treat something inside your body.

I would go to a different doctor for a second opinion (or even a third) before going back for another surgery.

Good luck. Tanner


Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2010 6:49 PM
Subject: Tummy Tuck Surgical Drains – Infection

I had tummy tuck done on 3/23. after two weeks I noticed I have a a lot of pain in my left side where the drain is coming out and noticed the infection and today the Doctor removed the drain and removed the puss and put me on Cirofloxacin,750mg. I took one at 12 today but I still feel pain and redness and inflammation on the site and on my thigh. I do not know what should I do . I am suppose to see my Doctor tomorrow. Should i go to emergency room? is there any other antibiotic that I can take bc this one is giving me upset stomach. Please advise.

Response – I cannot advise you on a medical condition such as yours. I did not have that problem.

I would think that your doctor gave you emergency phone numbers to call before your operation. He is the one to tell you what to do and what to expect.

7 hours may be too little time for the antibiotic to have any effect. He may tell you that it will take time and simply to take something to calm your upset stomach until tomorrow’s appointment rather than changing antibiotics. I do not know.

If you cannot contact your doctor and you are still concerned why not try calling the emergency room first and explain your situation to them. They may be able to save you a trip.

Good luck. Tanner


Sent: Friday, April 02, 2010 2:05 PM
Great information.  Thank you!  I’m currently scheduled for 2 consultations to have my tummy tuck done, and no website that I have ever been to has answered my drainage questions like you have.  Thanks again! I’m going to keep your site info. in case I have more questions in the next few weeks.

Response – I’ll be happy to answer any questions if I can.

Going to you first tummy tuck consultations can be an exciting and scary. You may want to bring with you a list of written questions to ask the surgeon or his nurse when you are there.

Some of the questions that I asked can be found at the bottom of this page.


They may give you some ideas for additional questions to ask.

Good luck with your consultations. Tanner


Sent: Sunday, March 28, 2010 2:55 PM
How much liquid came out of your body?

Response – I kept a written record of the amount of fluid drained from my body for the first week after my tummy tuck and body lift. I presented this information to my plastic surgeon at each of my follow-up visits to help him determine when to remove my surgical drains. I was told to record this information every four hours then empty each drain. When the fluid drained slowed to about a few cc’s then the surgeon would remove the drains.

The night of my tummy tuck operation my body was really pumping out the old bodily fluids at a rate of about 43 cc’s per hour. You can view a scan of my drain records here at page 1 and page 2. To make it easier to understand I averaged the data and included it in the following table (above).


Sent: Sunday, March 14, 2010 12:40 PM
Today i noticed some small seedy-like substance in my drainage tube..like possible puss..which concerns me for infection from my tummy tuck. I’m taking my antibiotics faithfully…my pain is minimal…do you think this is normal or infection?

Response – When I had my tummy tuck I didn’t see any pus or seedy-like substance. I do remember seeing some small globules of “stuff” mixed with red drainage fluid the day after my surgery (maybe even the second day). It depends on what you mean by “some” and how long after surgery this is happening. Your best bet to give you peace of mind would be call your surgeon (most likely his nurse). I am sure they gave you emergency contact numbers.
Good luck. Tanner