Is a drainless tummy tuck more expensive?

A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic surgery procedure to improve the appearance of the abdominal area. It involves the removal of excess skin and fat, as well as the tightening of muscles in the abdominal wall. Tummy tucks are performed to help flatten the stomach after pregnancy or significant weight loss. They can also help achieve a more toned abdominal profile.

What is a drainless tummy tuck?

A drainless tummy tuck is a modified technique that does not require the use of surgical drains after the procedure. Drains are soft plastic tubes that are commonly placed under the skin during an abdominoplasty to allow excess fluid and blood to drain from the surgical site. This helps reduce swelling and the risk of seroma formation (fluid accumulation).

In a drainless tummy tuck, progressive tension sutures and quilting stitches are used to close the wound and eliminate dead space where fluid could pool. Special surgical glue may also be applied. The lack of drains can make recovery more comfortable for the patient by avoiding the maintenance and removal of bulky drains.

Are drainless tummy tucks more expensive?

Yes, a drainless tummy tuck typically costs more than a traditional tummy tuck with drains. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Advanced surgical techniques – Performing a drainless abdominoplasty requires specialized surgical skills and techniques to ensure proper healing and reduce risks without the use of drains.
  • Longer operating time – Placing progressive tension sutures and quilting stitches is more time-consuming than simply inserting drains. The longer time under anesthesia results in higher surgical fees.
  • Newer technology – Some surgeons use expensive specialized drainage devices or tissue adhesives that add to the overall cost.

Overall, the advanced techniques and products required contribute to increased surgeon fees and surgical facility fees for a drainless tummy tuck.

How much more expensive is a drainless tummy tuck?

The exact cost difference between a traditional and drainless tummy tuck can vary significantly depending on factors like:

  • Surgeon’s fees
  • Geographic location
  • Surgical facility charges
  • Extent of the procedure
  • Use of newer technologies/products

However, according to cost data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, patients can expect to pay approximately $1,000 to $3,000 more for a drainless tummy tuck compared to a standard procedure with drains. In general, the drainless technique costs about 15-25% more than the traditional approach.

Tummy Tuck Type Average Cost
Traditional with drains $6,200
Drainless $7,200 – $9,200

However, the benefits of a drainless procedure like faster recovery, less discomfort, and no drain maintenance may be worth the added expense for many patients.

Pros of a drainless tummy tuck

There are several potential advantages to choosing a drainless tummy tuck over a traditional procedure:

  • Faster recovery – No drains means less discomfort and faster return to normal activity for most patients.
  • Lower infection risk – Drains create an opening for bacteria to enter the body and increase infection risk slightly.
  • Minimal scarring – Smaller incisions are possible without drain tubing exiting the body.
  • No drain maintenance – Daily care, emptying, and recording of drain output is not required.
  • Shorter procedure time – Less time under anesthesia since drain placement is omitted.

For the right candidates, a drainless tummy tuck can provide an enhanced recovery experience and excellent cosmetic results.

Cons of a drainless tummy tuck

Despite its benefits, there are some potential downsides to a drainless tummy tuck to consider as well:

  • Increased cost – As discussed above, eliminating drains adds to the overall price of the procedure.
  • Higher seroma risk – Some studies have shown a higher rate of seroma formation without drains.
  • Not suitable for large procedures – Drains are still recommended for extended tummy tucks and cases with a large amount of fat removal.
  • Advanced skill required – Not all surgeons have the specialized training and skills to perform drainless abdominoplasty techniques properly.

Patients should carefully consult with surgeons experienced in drainless approaches to determine if it is right for their specific needs and goals.

Candidates for a drainless tummy tuck

The best candidates for a drainless tummy tuck include:

  • Patients having a mini- or modified abdominoplasty that removes only a small to moderate amount of tissue
  • Non-smokers
  • Individuals with good skin elasticity
  • People who prioritize faster recovery and have enough downtime to recover properly
  • Those willing to strictly follow postoperative instructions to reduce fluid buildup and seroma risk

A drainless tummy tuck may not be appropriate for patients who:

  • Need an extended abdominoplasty with significant fat removal
  • Have poor skin elasticity or healing ability
  • Are undergoing multiple procedures at once
  • Have existing fluid retention or swelling issues
  • Are unable or unwilling to limit activity during recovery

An experienced board-certified plastic surgeon can help determine if a drainless tummy tuck is a good option based on the patient’s individual condition and goals.

How to choose between a drainless and traditional tummy tuck

When deciding between a drainless or traditional tummy tuck, patients may want to consider factors like:

  • Cost – The drainless option costs more. Is the added expense within your budget?
  • Recovery time – Drains usually extend recovery. Is faster healing worth paying more?
  • Extent of surgery – Large or extended procedures still require drains for safety.
  • Surgeon’s recommendation – Trust your surgeon’s judgment on the best technique for your needs.
  • Results – Both techniques can achieve your desired aesthetic results when done properly.
  • Convenience – Are you willing and able to manage drains postoperatively?

Be open and honest with your surgeon about your priorities so they can recommend the best tummy tuck approach for you.

Questions to ask your surgeon about a drainless tummy tuck

If you are considering a drainless tummy tuck, you should ask your plastic surgeon the following questions:

  • Am I a good candidate for a drainless procedure?
  • How many drainless tummy tucks have you performed?
  • What is your seroma rate with the drainless technique?
  • Do you use progressive tension sutures or special glue/devices?
  • What limitations on activity will I have during recovery?
  • What is the difference in cost between a traditional and drainless tummy tuck?
  • How much faster is recovery without drains?
  • Under what circumstances would you recommend drains or no drains?

Asking the right questions will provide the information you need to make a fully informed decision.

Aftercare tips for a drainless tummy tuck

Proper aftercare is especially important for a smooth, comfortable recovery after a drainless tummy tuck. Follow these tips:

  • Wear recommended compression garments to prevent fluid buildup.
  • Follow activity restrictions – no straining, bending, or lifting.
  • Report any unusual pain, swelling, or fluid buildup immediately.
  • Attend all follow-up visits so the surgeon can monitor healing.
  • Avoid blood thinners unless prescribed by the surgeon.
  • Do not smoke or consume alcohol for several weeks.
  • Sleep in a semi-reclined position and ambulate regularly.
  • Avoid sun exposure on incision sites until fully healed.

Closely following postoperative instructions can promote proper healing after a drainless procedure. Alert your surgeon to any concerning symptoms.


  • A drainless tummy tuck uses progressive tension sutures instead of surgical drains to reduce fluid buildup after surgery.
  • Eliminating drains usually adds between $1,000 to $3,000 to the cost of abdominoplasty.
  • Benefits include quicker recovery, lower infection risk, and no drain maintenance.
  • A drainless technique may not be suitable for extensive procedures with large-volume fat removal.
  • Proper patient selection and adherence to aftercare guidelines are vital for success.
  • When performed by a skilled surgeon on appropriate candidates, a drainless tummy tuck can be very effective and enable an improved patient experience.


While a drainless tummy tuck is typically more expensive than a traditional procedure, the benefits of shorter recovery time, reduced discomfort, and no drain maintenance may make it a worthwhile investment for the right patients. Individuals considering an abdominoplasty should consult with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon to determine if the drainless approach is appropriate for their needs and goals.

With careful patient selection, advanced surgical techniques, and diligent postoperative care, a drainless tummy tuck can deliver very pleasing cosmetic results with an enhanced recovery experience for many patients. However, traditional drains may still be required for more extensive surgeries. Overall cost, recovery priorities, procedure extent, and surgeon recommendations should all be weighed when deciding between a drainless or standard tummy tuck.

Leave a Comment