How many drains? One, two or none?
Drains are tubes that are left under the skin during an operation. They are used to remove pockets of fluid that can accumulate. After any surgery, the tissues ooze fluid to a certain degree as they heal. Fluid collections during healing can sometimes lead to infection.
Despite this, some areas are more prone to collections than others, and not all surgeries need drains. Usually, drains are removed within a week or so when there is little fluid coming out. The fluid enters a small clear bulb that looks like a grenade.
The idea of removing a drain scares patients, but it is more often described as a weird sensation, not a painful one.
As patients are better educated about the surgeries they are considering, they come in asking about drains. I often receive the following question:
“Are you a one-drain surgeon or a two-drain surgeon? Do you use drains at all?”
The answer is yes, no and maybe. The use of drains is often a call of clinical judgment. I tell all of my patients that if I think a drain is necessary, I will leave one. But, for most of the surgeries I perform, they are not needed:
- Facelift – Sometimes requires a drain, but depends on the extent.
- Breast lifts or reductions – Usually don’t require a drain.
- Breast augmentation – Never as of this writing.
- Tummy tucks – Often require a drain, but not always. Usually, it is one drain, rarely two. Depends on multiple factors.
- Liposuction – No drains required.
- Brachioplasty & thigh lifts – Rarely require drains.
- Other surgeries are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
So, like anything I do, drains are a judgment call based upon what I see at surgery, the type of plastic surgery and the patient type. They can be a nuisance for patients, so I avoid them when I can, but the benefit still makes them important.