Breast Implant Drainage Tubes (Drains After Breast Surgery)

Updated on: August 1, 2018

Surgical drains are not commonly administered for breast augmentation surgery, but if your plastic surgeon fitted you with them then it’s important to understand how they're managed.

Learn exactly how surgical drains work and how to care for your drains during your breast augmentation recovery.

How to care for your breast implant drainage tubes

Your drains may seem unwieldy or even gross, but it’s important to take good care of them—after all, your plastic surgeon put them in place for good reason. Make sure to follow your surgeon’s breast augmentation aftercare tips and wash your hands before handling your drainage tubes.

Here are some key tips to keep your drains functioning well:

Prevent blockage in the tubing

Clots may form in the tubing, preventing proper drainage. Keep the tubing clear by “milking” it: pinch the tubing near the incision with one hand, and with your other hand carefully squeeze any clots down the tube into the collection bulb. Be careful not to pull on the tubing at the incision site. You may have to do this a few times a day.

Empty the collection bulb when necessary

Over time the collection bulb will fill up with fluids and need to be emptied when it’s about half full. Open the collection bulb and pour out the fluid. Make sure to write down the amount of fluid and the date and time. Your plastic surgeon will need this information later on. When you’re done, squeeze the bulb to maintain suction and close the top. You may need to do this two or three times a day depending on how much fluid there is.

Look out for signs of infection

There’s a risk of developing an infection from surgical drains. Notify your plastic surgeon if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Redness around your incisions
  • Increasing discomfort, swelling, pain, or heat near the surgical sites
  • Discharge around your incisions or drain tubes that looks cloudy
  • A Fever
  • Pus draining from the surgical site

Shower carefully

Showering after breast surgery is no easy feat, especially with all the bandages and discomfort. Make sure to follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding bathing. If your surgeon gives the OK to shower with your drains in, you’ll need to secure them with a belt or cloth so they don’t tug at your incisions or pull out.

Removing drains after breast surgery

So when do the drains come out? Your surgeon will give you specific info on when your drainage tubes will be removed.

Your surgeon will have you measure the amount of fluid that drains from each breast. You’ll need to keep track of this info until you see your surgeon for your post-op appointment.

When your surgeon thinks the drainage has slowed down enough, they’ll remove the drains. Generally, they aren’t left in for more than two weeks and your surgeon may remove them in a shorter amount of time.

If you're looking for support, you can jump into the JBI forum and read about other women's experiences with drainage tubes. Share your story and get great info from women who have been in your shoes.

Why would you need surgical drains?

Surgical drains are used to remove excess fluid from a surgical site. Most surgeons consider surgical drains to be unnecessary after a typical breast augmentation, but they may be administered for certain breast implant types or breast surgeries.

Surgical drains can help prevent infection, hematomas or seromas if there is a potential for blood or fluid buildup. They can also aid in healing with some textured or shaped breast implants.

If you have textured implants, surgical drains can prevent rotation of the implants and improve adherence to the tissue surrounding the implant, called the capsule.

It's more common for drains to be used for revisionary surgery, breast reduction surgery or mastopexy. With these surgeries, more of the breast tissue is dissected, so there's a greater chance of blood or fluid buildup.

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