Background Compromised wound healing following stoma reversal is a frequent problem. The use of negative suction drainage for reduction of complications remains controversial. Methods The patient database of our center was reviewed for patients with ileostomy reversal between 2007 and 2017. Risk factors for wound complications were analyzed using multivariate regression analysis. Systematic review and meta-analysis was performed. Ultimately, results of this study were integrated into meta-analysis to assess the effect of drainage placement on wound healing. Results In our institutional analysis, a total of 406 patients with ileostomy reversal were included (n = 240 (59.1%) with drainage vs. n = 166 (40.8%) without drainage). In multivariate analysis, body mass index (BMI) was a risk factor for wound complications (odds ratio (95% CI) 1.06 (1.02-1.12)). Patients with drainage needed significantly fewer interventions than those without drainage (17.1% vs. 28.9%, p = 0.005). Placement of drainage significantly reduced the risk of wound complications even in the group with elevated BMI (odds ratio (95% CI) 0.462 (0.28-0.76), p = 0.003). Meta-analysis identified 6 studies with a total of 1180 patients eligible for further analysis (2 prospectively randomized trials; 4 retrospective cohort studies). Overall analysis revealed a significantly beneficial effect of wound drainage following ileostomy reversal (RR (95% CI) 0.47 (0.34, 0.66); p < 0.0001). Conclusion In our institutional analysis as well as meta-analysis, the use of subcutaneous suction drains was beneficial for prevention of wound healing complications following ostomy reversal. Drainage placement is especially valuable in high-risk situations such as in obese patients.