3 Minute Read:
First, you need to understand what a tummy tuck is and why drains are commonly used.
A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is a very popular cosmetic surgical procedure that improves the appearance of the abdomen after having kids or following significant weight loss. The surgery tightens the skin and may also repair muscle separation and remove fat, resulting in a flatter abdomen.
In order to achieve these improvements, the skin and fat are surgically lifted off of the underlying muscle. This process creates a large space. If nothing is done with that space, fluid will almost always accumulate, creating what is called a “seroma.”
To prevent fluid accumulation, surgeons traditionally place two or more drains into that space. Drains are tubes that are part inside and part outside of your body, connected to a bulb that creates a vacuum to remove that fluid. Even using this traditional technique, seroma is still possible and remains the most common complication of a tummy tuck. Not to mention, drains are uncomfortable, cumbersome, and are arguably the most feared and disliked part of the surgery.
How Does a Drain-free Tummy Tuck Work?
Dr. Todd A. Pollock, in conjunction with his now-retired father, has pioneered a technique to eliminate the use of these drains while decreasing the risk of fluid collection. Their technique places dissolving stitches from the skin and fat flap down to the muscle to close the vacant space while tightening the skin. They call this the progressive tension sutures (PTS) technique, which was first used for tummy tucks but is now used in various other cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. Their effectiveness has been validated by many surgeons in numerous different studies.
Why does it work?
The abdomen moves with many normal actions, from walking to changing positions to breathing. And these movements occur in different directions, such as those experienced when bending, stretching, and twisting. In the traditional tummy tuck technique, nothing but the drains’ weak vacuum holds these tissues together to allow them to heal. The motions of the abdomen repeatedly disrupt the early healing process, leading to inflammation—a process that produces seroma fluid.
The drain-free technique with progressive tension sutures works because it secures the tissues together to prevent disruption. In turn, this allows uninterrupted healing. And this tummy tuck method doesn’t just reduce fluid collections; it also reduces a number of other complications, improves cosmetic outcomes, allows walking in an upright position immediately after surgery, which shortens recovery time, and generally improves the patient’s overall experience.
In summary, this surgical breakthrough:
- Allows healing without the placement of surgical drains, thus minimizing post-surgery care needs
- Speeds the patient’s return to normal activities, including an upright posture and physical activity
- Dramatically reduces the incidence of complications, particularly seroma
- Allows a new technique for belly button suture, resulting in a more natural result
- And places no tension on the skin closure, resulting in reduced scarring