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The Purpose of Drains after Plastic Surgery

By Brian Kobienia, MD, FACS on December 02, 2014


Surgical markings on a woman’s tummyAfter plastic surgery, the body develops an excess amount of fluid around the surgical site. This is what causes the significant swelling that is most commonly experienced during recovery from surgery. While the body will heal and swelling will dissipate over time, surgical drains are often placed in order to accelerate the healing process and to help in the prevention of infection or other surgical complications. Especially in the case of body contouring surgery to sculpt and tone the body, these drains are an important tool in ensuring a smooth recovery experience. Dr. Brian J. Kobienia explains to our Edina patients why drains after plastic surgery are important and how they can be cared for while in place.

Benefits of Surgical Drains

It is normal for the body to build up and hold on to excess fluid following plastic surgery. However, it is important that the body gets rid of this fluid as it can become infected and may cause surgical complications. Surgical drains benefit patients by helping the body drain these fluids, which can decrease the risk of infection. Healing time may also be decreased with the use of surgical drains, as it will be easier for the tissues to heal without a buildup of fluids. Finally, surgical drains allow patients to keep track of how much fluid is drained each day, which is a gauge for Dr. Kobienia to see how healing is progressing.

Caring for Surgical Drains

Surgical drains are placed at the end of surgery and will either be placed directly in the incision site or in close proximity. Because Dr. Kobienia places and removes the surgical drains, patients are only responsible for the day-to-day care, which most find to be much easier than they had anticipated. The bulbs are usually made of a soft silicone material that is comfortable for patients and is easy to work with. In order to ensure that the drains function as intended and do not get backed up, patients will need to empty them several times throughout the day. While the drains do most of the work on their own, patients should lightly squeeze the drainage tubes in a downward motion before emptying the collection bulb (which is connected to the drainage tubes and hangs on the outside of the body). The amount of fluid that was collected should also be recorded, as the levels of fluid being drained each day will be one of the main factors used to determine when surgical drains are ready to be removed.

How Long do Surgical Drains Stay in Place?

In the case of surgical drains, each surgery and patient is unique. While some patients may only require surgical drains for a couple of days, others may need drains for a couple of weeks. Again, the amount of time that drains remain in place is largely dependent on the type of surgery performed and the amount of fluid that is being drained from the body each day.

Schedule an Appointment

If you would like to improve body contour or reverse signs of aging, plastic surgery can help. Dr. Brian J. Kobienia offers a wide range of cosmetic surgeries and treatments that can help patients reach their aesthetic goals. To learn more about the services we offer, schedule an appointment with Dr. Kobienia at your earliest convenience. We look forward to hearing from you!

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