Abdominoplasty Drains: how they work and modern alternatives

Abdominoplasty is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures for both women and men. Following significant weight loss or childbirth, it can be challenging to reach our ultimate fitness goals. Even with the appropriate diet and exercise that midsection can be difficult to flatten and tone. And this is generally why people choose a tummy tuck.

Yet, not all tummy tucks are the same. These days a drainless tummy tuck can offer the best results with the least complicated recovery. But in some cases, your option may still be to have drains. So what are the differences, and what does this mean for you?

Benefits of a no drain tummy tuck

With the traditional tummy tuck, cavities can develop between the skin/fat tissue and stomach muscles where fluid builds up. The sculpted, no drain tummy tuck minimizes the creation of these spaces with the use of dissolvable suture techniques and glue. Sculpt tummy tucks can take longer to perfect in surgery, but there are many benefits to consider. The traditional tummy tuck is still performed by some surgeons, and the technique is still accessible. So it’s crucial you discuss all options with your surgeon at your consultation. Make sure you understand which abdominoplasty procedure is available and whether it is suitable for your unique case.

It’s important to note that when you choose the sculpt tummy tuck procedure vs more traditional surgical methods, you may experience some huge benefits when it comes to recovery, convenience and final outcomes:

  • No drains
  • Sutures dissolve, so no removal is necessary
  • Less scarring
  • Quicker recovery
  • Fewer complications and risk of infection
  • Reduced incision tension
  • Diminished pain and discomfort
  • No fluid accumulation

Choosing the best surgeon for you

Some surgeons may not yet offer the no drain tummy tuck, preferring the traditional method for this type of cosmetic surgery. Discuss your expectations with your surgeon at the initial consultation. Choose a practitioner who explains all the risks and complete details of your procedures. Your surgeon should have the experience and knowledge about both techniques, and they should be willing to answer any questions and address any concerns that you may have.

Dr Beldholm performs 3 types of Sculpt tummy tucks. These procedures all address loose skin and muscle separation. And each is suitable post-pregnancy and following substantial weight loss.

3 types of Sculpt tummy tuck:

Mini Sculpt tummy tuck

Targets the overhanging skin on the lower abdominal area. Often a concern for women who’ve had a c-section. Includes extensive Vaser liposculpture on the full abdomen and sides. Usually, a rapid recovery performed as a day stay op. The expectation of 2-4 weeks recovery.

Full Sculpt tummy tuck

The most common abdominoplasty performed by Dr Beldholm on both men and women. Useful for post-pregnancy patients and post-weight loss. Treats loose skin on the full tummy as well as muscle separation and excess fat.

Extended Sculpt tummy tuck

The extent of the lower abdominal skin resection, extending around the hips being the big difference between full and extended tummy tuck.

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What to expect from each procedure:

Sculpting of excess fat on the abdomen and sides using VASER liposculpture. This advanced liposuctioning technique which minimizes bruising and gives a defined, proportional result. Unlike the traditional tummy tuck, Sculpt VASER lipo-abdominoplasty eliminates the need for drains.

This VASER liposculpture based tummy tuck is for post-pregnancy and significant weight loss. It targets some of the main concerns in both instances:

  • excess skin
  • abdominal separation
  • tummy and waistline silhouette

In traditional abdominoplasty procedures, surgical drains help prevent fluid build the incision. Each drain is a transparent tube put into a small cut below the main incision and leading out of the body to a small pouch. Often the drain tube exits the abdomen through one or more incisions around the pubic mound. Though it could also be at the ends of the abdominoplasty incision. Drains allow fluid that would otherwise accumulate at the surgery site.

Drains make home and self-care more challenging to manage and can stay in for up to two weeks. Yet, they help prevent seroma following surgery. So despite being uncomfortable and inconvenient, they are sometimes necessary. Here are some of the ways a no drain tummy tuck may work better for you:

  • The reduction in pain and discomfort compared to traditional methods.
  • Patients get back to their regular lives faster.
  • Better aesthetic outcome.

So why are drains used following a tummy tuck?

Postoperative drains

Traditional tummy tucks separate overlying skin and fat from the abdominal muscles. The surgeon then tightens the abdominals and pulls the skin/fat layer down. Next, removing the excess tissue and suturing. This though creates a space that, until healed, can allow fluid in. This can result in a complication called a seroma, a buildup of fluid that can lead to infection. It can also mean satisfactory results. As a consequence, drains help reduce seroma risk after a tummy tuck.

Drains can still serve an essential purpose in surgical procedures. Unfortunately, they can also be uncomfortable for patients and not pleasant to deal with. These drains need emptying, which is another thing to consider as you recover. Also, since showering is not allowed with drains, patients tend to dislike them.

  • New techniques used by Dr Beldholm pretty much end the need for drains with tummy tuck surgery
  • We use internal sutures, glue and the latest dressing technology. This eliminates the space between the skin/fat layer and the abdominal muscles.
  • Drain-free tummy tuck surgery is our preferred method. Recovery and satisfaction of clients is our priority, and sculpted tummy tuck means we can offer this


Surgical drains are still commonly used in many medical procedures. But, their importance in medicine is diminishing as surgical techniques develop and patient management protocols improve.

If you’re considering abdominoplasty, the availability of a no drain procedure is worth investigating with your specialist. If it’s not given as an option, it’s best to ask why.