A plastic surgeon’s technique combining liposuction with the tummy tuck has been shown to help control the risk of a post-operative problem called seroma.

A study in the October issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery documents the technique, which “helps avoid seroma without the need to place a drain after the abdominoplasty procedure,” according to the ASPS.

A relatively common problem that occurs after tummy tuck surgery, seroma can occur when wound fluid accumulates after surgery. According to previous studies, the rate of seroma varies widely, ranging from 1 percent of tummy tuck patients to 50 percent. They develop weeks after the tummy tuck, and the typical solution is to place a surgical drain that removes the fluid buildup.

Because of infection risk and discomfort, a drain is not considered the ideal solution to this problem. That’s why plastic surgeons at Florida State University worked to develop a liposuction technique that would prevent seroma after tummy tuck – without needing a drain. Over a period of 6 years, they performed the technique in 113 tummy tuck patients.

With an extended incision, they performed liposuction that removed fat while improving blood flow the the skin above the tummy tuck incision. Using progressive tension sutures, the surgeons were able to minimize the space beneath the skin, where fluid might accumulate. Only 8.8 percent of patients developed seroma after their tummy tuck, rate that is “similar if not better than those reported in the literature, and the lack of drains decreases sources of infection and irritation to the patient,” the authors report.

The authors say they believe that the technique can control the risks of seroma after tummy tuck surgery, while also improving the aesthetic outcome.

This study was conducted by plastic surgeon Carl W. Lentz III, MD at Florida State University. You can read more about it on plasticsurgery.org

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