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Taking Care Of Drains After Breast Surgery

by Asim Khan

Nobody wishes to go through the pain of getting their breast removed. But breast cancer does not leave any way out. The viable options that are seen as epitome are mastectomy and lumpectomy. These two surgical procedures remove the cancerous tissues, followed by the process of inserting surgical drains to improve healing. Inserting Drains after breast surgery is an unavoidable and critical process. Let us learn more about the process of exploring the care procedure after lumpectomy or mastectomy. 

About Surgical Drains Post The Breast Surgery 

Surgical drains are essential for quick healing post-breast surgery. But the procedure is cumbersome and draining. It is mainly inserted to drain fluids like serous fluid, blood, and purulent fluid with the help of negative pressure after breast reconstruction, axillary dissection, or mastectomy. In this procedure, surgical drains are inserted and attached to flexible tubes to transfer the collected fluid into a container. 

There are primarily two types of drain systems:

  • Closed-system drains 
  • Open-system drains 

In open-system drains, the fluid is emptied directly on a gauge pad, whereas in closed-system drains, the fluid is drained into a container. The popular closed system used is the Jackson-Pratt system. 

Number of drains used in the procedure 

The number mainly depends on the type of operation or surgical procedure. Generally, most patients require one or two drains. But patients undergoing bilateral mastectomy require up to five drains or more immediately. The ongoing time to have these surgical drains is up to two weeks. Depending upon the daily drainage capacity, the time may exceed or decrease. 

Please note: Patients undergoing a surgical biopsy, lumpectomy, or sentinel node biopsy do not require surgical draining. 

The necessity of surgical drains 

When the breast tissues are removed due to mastectomy or bilateral dissection, cavities are produced inside where the fluid accumulates. The fluid is the same as the serous fluid leaking in the case of a burn wound. If not removed, fluid accumulation can harm and impede the healing process. 

Placing drains after breast surgery helps patients for lifetime by decreasing the risk of developing seroma, causing pain and scarring later. That’s the reason why surgical drains are necessary after breast surgery. 

Comfortable or uncomfortable 

The insertion of drains takes place under the influence of anesthesia. Therefore, feeling physical pain during the procedure is not possible. However, mild discomfort can be felt when the procedure is complete and the patient is out of the influence of anesthesia. 

But one can also not deny the chances of discomfort if the drains are longer. The large drains may cause discomfort as patients may feel a pulling sensation which is quite normal. So, if your drains are causing discomfort in any scenario, meet your doctor immediately. Your doctor may give you some pain relief medicines. 

Taking care of surgical drains after breast surgery 

Generally, your doctor and nurse will guide you through the care procedure and demonstrate how to drain the fluid from the container. So as suggested, empty the container periodically and make it twice a day. But while you do so, you need to understand that you may or may not like the process as it could be cumbersome and mentally draining. Therefore, get yourself adjusted to the new lifestyle and bring out the necessary changes as mentioned below.  

  • Get yourself comfortable with the setup and get used to it. 
  • Don’t perform strenuous exercises as they may increase fluid output and cause trauma. 
  • Avoid tossing and turning in the night. Use a recliner to avoid changing the side while sleeping with drains on. 
  • Avoid showering with drains, but you may consult with your doctor for better suggestions. 
  • Choose mastectomy bras to keep tubes secure and in place.
  • Have some extra space made in your camisole or outfit to carry container in case of closed-system drains.  

If you don’t follow the tips mentioned in this blog or shared by your doctor, you may get complications later. You may develop an infection that may impede the healing process. Therefore, change the fluid periodically and clean the area with a mild cleaning agent. For better understanding, always consult your doctor for possible actions to be taken for drains after breast surgery

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