Seattle Plastic Surgeon explains why she uses progressive tension sutures in her tummy tuck patients.
I saw a patient today for a tummy tuck consultation. She had spent quite a bit of time researching tummy tucks on the Internet and had a lot of questions about my technique. I went down her list of questions with her and answered them as best I could. Her last question, “do you use progressive tension sutures?”, was the first time I have had a patient ask me about that particular part of the procedure. My answer was a resounding YES!!!
Progressive tension sutures are also called quilting sutures or mattress sutures. These stitches secure the underside of the abdominal fat pad to the abdominal muscle layer. They serve several purposes. They take tension off the incision line which can result in more favorable healing and scarring. They close off the potential space between the abdominal fat pad and the muscle and help prevent fluid (a seroma) from accumulating. Drains can come out much sooner: after 2 – 4 days instead of after 7 – 10 days. These stitches also help the patient remember not to twist or turn in the first weeks after a tummy tuck because those actions will cause a little twinge.
I have been using progressive tension suture ever since I attended an instructional course in this topic taught by Drs. Harlan and Todd Pollock. My rate of post-operative fluid collections (seroma) went from about 25% to (honest to God) ZERO. This addition to my abdominopasty adds about 15 minutes of operating time but has reduced the time and hassle of draining seromas after surgery. It’s a good investment in my time. Every time I see either Dr. Pollock at a medical meeting, I thank him for introducing me to this very, very useful technique.
Thanks for reading! Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder