Going home with a surgical drain

Sometimes after breast surgery a wound drain is placed in the wound to collect fluid from where you had surgery. You can be discharged home with the drain in place. There is no increased risk of infection or any other complication following surgery by allowing you to recover at home and many patients comment that they feel happier at home with their families.

Your drain works by low pressure suction and it helps prevent bruising and swelling of your wound. There is a length of tubing that leads from the wound into the suction bulb. The drain is stitched to the skin to hold it in place and it is unusual for it to become dislodged.

Looking after your drain

It is very easy to look after your drain and we will teach you exactly what to do before you leave hospital. Before you leave the ward a nurse will check the wound and your drain site. The drain will be emptied immediately prior to discharge and the nurse will make a note on the drainage chart that will be yours to take home and complete on a daily basis. We will phone you regularly to find out about the drainage.

Whilst your drain is in place we advise that you avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activities like hoovering and ironing. During the day, some people find that it is easier to carry the drain in a small bag or pinned to your clothing. Overnight a small comfortable pillow tucked under your arm may help take pressure off the drain tubes and operation site.

Please contact the ward or breast care nurse on the numbers below if you notice:

  • excessive leakage around the tube
  • any fever, shivering or temperature (above 38◦C)
  • if the drain accidentally falls out (simply apply a dressing over the drain site)

Removal of the drain

We will tell you when it’s time to take the drain out and make arrangements for this to be done here in the breast clinic or by a community nurse. The securing stitch is removed and the drain is gently withdrawn.

If you have any concerns please contact us.

Breast Care Nurses 01935 384352 (8.30am to 4pm Monday – Friday)

Jasmine Ward 01935 384301 (all other times)