When receiving a lumpectomy or mastectomy surgery you will use surgical drains. Drains will be placed in one or more of your surgical incisions to collect fluid from the surgical area. The drains should stop fluid from collecting the surgical area. Two-three stiches are inserted to keep the drains in place. Your drains will need care:

  • You will be given a measuring cup and Drainage Record sheet in your after-surgery package to help you keep track of the amount of fluid in your drain.
  • You will empty your drain every 8 hours once you are at home. 
    • Emptying the drain means draining fluid out of the container (the bulb) that holds the fluid which comes out of the incision.
    • If your drains become clogged with blood clots or tissue, you must “Milk the Drain”
      • This involves pinching the drain tubing from your body’s exiting surgical incision to the bulb
      • This fix is done to ensure the bulb is suctioning correctly
  • Write down the amount of fluid that you empty from the drain and the time of day. The Drainage Record sheet will be reviewed by a nurse who will either come to your home or see you at your doctor’s office.
  • The fluid will be red at first and then will become pink in color.
  • Over time the fluid will lighten in color and look like the color of apple juice.
  • Small clots of blood or tissue may be seen in the drain – this is normal.
  • It is important to keep the drain site clean to prevent infection.
  •  If reconstruction is performed, the plastic surgeon usually decides when the drains can be removed, otherwise the breast surgeon will make the decision.

Drains are typically removed at a follow-up appointment with the surgeon, usually when the drain output is less than 25-30 cc in a 24-hour period.

All bras and clothing must accommodate drains as we will explore in the next blog!!

Know what’s to come.

Knowing limits Fear!