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What IS the fluid that drains from incisions after your Tummy Tuck?

Mar 31, 2023

Not too long ago, I got this great question from a member of my Facebook group dedicated to Manual Lymph Drainage therapists working with postop plastic surgery patients.

So, I though I should also record a video and write a quick blog about it.

In medical circles, we call this fluid 'serous' fluid. However, in actual fact this fluid is a mix of lymph fluid and plasma caused by damage and leadage to both lymph vessels and blood capillaries. This is the same fluid that would be contained in a 'seroma', a common issue after abdominoplasty and liposuction.

However, 'proper' serous fluid is in fact different. 

We have three main caviities in our bodies: the pleura, the pericardium and the peritoneum. These three cavities contain vital organs and are surrounded by tissue that keeps everying within the cavity, enclosed. Serous fluid is produced by the serosa, and is a lubricating fluid that avoids friction of the tissues and membranes when there is movement.

We could say that a cavity is produced when tissues have been removed during liposuction. Or, when skin and muscles are separated during abdominoplasty and they haven't stuck together again afterwards. However, the fluid that is contained within that cavity is lymph and plasma and is quite normal after both of these procedures.

So, why are drains used? If the drains weren't in place, the fluid would continue to build up in your body, making you more susceptible to infection. And the fluid can have an effect on wound healing. You can imagine if that fluid remains in that pocket, the space, or cavity will never close and the tissues won't adhere together. That's why surgeons leave drains in until they are draining less than a certain amount of fluid. The more extensive the surgery, the bigger the amount of fluid that will drain.

What about pushing that fluid out of the incisions?

For me, that's a BIG no no! Its the reason you have drains put in by medical specialists. A seroma should only be aspirated (drained using a cannula) by a medical professional trained in doing that job. Opening and reopening incisions to have fluid pushed out, it unethical, unprofessional and leaves you susceptible to infection - not to mention delayed healing from from having incisions constantly reopened.

The body is an amazing and brilliant piece of equipment. We have all the various systems to help us recover. You want to SUPPORT what your body does naturally. 

What are my tips?

Wear your compression, have regular lymphatic massage therapy by a qualified manual lymph drainage therapist, move around, DON'T have any deep aggressive, painful massage (this will contribute to MORE swelling), eat healthily and drink plenty of water. If you do all this, you will find that in no time that fluid will stop draining and you will be well on the road to a great recovery.

If you are a Manual Lymph Drainage therapist who lacks confidence and wants success treating Postop Plastic Surgery patients? Click below to book a FREE 30 minutes discovery call where you can discuss your training needs and I'll share how you can gain confidence to have a successful postop practice.


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