How Does a Drainless Tummy Tuck Differ from a Traditional Tummy Tuck?

By: James Nachbar, MD, FACS


 A traditional tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure performed by a plastic surgeon to remove excess fat and skin from the abdomen, and usually also involves tightening the abdominal muscles to reduce bulging. 

This is often sought after by individuals who have experienced significant weight loss, pregnancy, or simply aging, where the skin has lost elasticity and strength. 

The traditional method involves inserting temporary drains to remove the fluid that would collect post-surgery.

Unfortunately, as anyone who has had such a conventional tummy tuck will tell you, the drain is the worst part of recovery.  The drains cause discomfort, inconvenience, and a prolonged healing process. 

However, at Scottsdale Plastic Surgery in Scottsdale, AZ, double-board-certified plastic surgeon James Nachbar, MD, FACS, offers an alternative approach: the drainless tummy tuck. Dr. Nachbar is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery.

What makes a drainless tummy tuck different? 

In contrast, a drainless tummy tuck, or no-drain tummy tuck, a newer procedure gaining popularity, eliminates the need for post-operative abdominal drains. 

Dr. Nachbar utilizes additional sutures in this procedure. These sutures secure the tissue attached to the abdominal skin to the underlying muscle and fascial layer, reducing the space where fluid can accumulate. This gets rid of the need for drains, hence the term "drainless tummy tuck." 

What are the benefits of a drainless tummy tuck in Scottsdale, AZ? 

There are numerous benefits to having a drainless tummy tuck in Scottsdale, AZ, especially under the experience of a skilled plastic surgeon like Dr. Nachbar. 

First, patients notice a smoother recovery process as they no longer need to manage uncomfortable drains. This method also reduces the risk of infection and complications that can arise from drain usage. Not to mention, patients are able to return to their daily activities more quickly. The absence of drains contributes to a more positive overall patient experience. 

In particular, the most common complication reported in studies of tummy tucks is the seroma, which is a collection of fluid under the abdominal skin and fat layer.  Of course, this is the reason surgeons who use drains use them in in the first place, to remove that fluid.  However, the drain eventually has to be removed, and when it is, the space, which has not completely healed yet, can become filled with fluid.

I know there are surgeons who say they can remove the drains after a few days without getting seromas, but I have not seen any articles in the literature showing that seromas do not occur when the drains are removed, even after three weeks.

The no-drain technique, on the other hand, works by eliminating the space where a seroma would occur, and we do not see seromas in our no-drain tummy tuck patients, which is essentially all of our tummy tucks since 2008.

On the other hand, the most serious complication of tummy tuck is probably a blood clot that develops in the leg and then travels to the lung, a "pulmonary embolism."

The best way to avoid such blood clots from developing is to get moving quickly after surgery, and the no-drain technique, by reducing discomfort, makes it easier to get around and start walking after surgery.  

Another way Dr. Nachbar helps reduce discomfort is the use of Exparel® long-lasting anesthetic in the tightened muscle -- this substantially reduces post-operative pain after a tummy tuck that involves tightening the abdominal muscle.  Unfortunately, because plastic surgeons doing surgery at HonorHealth are prohibited by the hospital from using Exparel®, any tummy tucks performed at HonorHealth do not include this long-lasting anesthetic.  However, Dr. Nachbar does almost all of his tummy tucks at another facility, where he can use Exparel®.

So, the no-drain tummy tuck can also reduce the risk of the most serious complication by allowing you to get moving more quickly after surgery.

Drainless tummy tuck vs traditional tummy tuck: what's the better option? 

The choice between a drainless tummy tuck versus a traditional tummy tuck is often based on the surgeon's experience with the more complex no-drain tummy tuck procedure.  Although no-drain tummy tuck is catching on as state-of-the-art across most of the USA, it really has not caught on in Arizona.

Dr. Nachbar learned the no-drain tummy tuck technique from some other surgeons in 2008, and immediately adopted it.  There certainly is a learning curve, but at this point, he can't imagine putting a patient through the discomfort of a drain unless there was no other reasonable choice.

However, plastic surgeons do many tummy tucks utilizing a drain, and the patients generally do well.  Even if a seroma occurs, it often resolves after only a few aspirations with a needle to remove the fluid.

How can I schedule my drainless tummy tuck with Dr. Nachbar? 

Now that you understand the differences and benefits of a drainless tummy tuck, why not take the next step to achieve the body you've been longing for? Contact Scottsdale Plastic Surgery today to schedule a consultation with Dr. James Nachbar, a leading plastic surgeon in Scottsdale, AZ. You'll be able to discuss your goals and concerns and understand how a drainless tummy tuck could be your ideal solution. Embrace a new you with the comfort, ease, and professional care offered by Dr. Nachbar and his team. You're not just getting a surgical procedure; you're investing in yourself, your confidence, and your future. Reach out today, and take the first step on your transformation journey.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.