Cosmetic Surgery Tips

How Long Do Drain Tubes Stay in After Breast Reduction

Surgical drains are tubes inserted into the soft tissue of your breast after surgery to help drain excess fluids that build up inside your body. This fluid is normal and fills the space where breast tissue was removed during surgery. If not drained properly, excess fluid will cause misshapen implants, infections, and other complications. 

The drain will normally stay in situ approximately for 3-10 days, this may need to be longer depending upon how much fluid is draining each day and the type of surgery you have had. We advise you to use a small bag to carry your drain in, the ward can provide you with a small cotton bag.

In this post, we’ll look at How to reduce drainage after mastectomy and Common problems after breast reduction surgery.

How Long Do Drain Tubes Stay in After Breast Reduction

Avoiding fluid build-up is the main purpose of surgical drains. The use of drainage tubes had been reported to lower the possibility of developing a seroma – a small accumulation of fluid under the skin that appears as a small and benign but often painful lump.

However, recent studies have concluded that this is not the case. The best way to avoid complications, such as seromas, is with good control of any bleeding and by closing up open spaces with internal sutures.

The CREO Clinic’s use of other clinical techniques to circumvent the need for drain tubes has the double benefit of being more comfortable as well as more effective.

Where Are Surgical Drains Located?

Drain tubes are small plastic tubes inserted gently under the surface of the skin at different points of the incision sites on your breasts. Generally, they lead to a receptacle, such as a small vacuum bulb that can be removed and emptied once it is full.

How to Care for Surgical Drains

You may need to empty the vacuum bulbs attached to your drain tubes around two or three times a day, although this will vary from person to person. This process needs to be as sanitary as possible so as to avoid getting bacteria into incision sites. 

Another vitally important part of drain tube management is ensuring that the tubes are not pulled, as this can reopen wounds and be detrimental to healing.

When Are Breast Reduction Drains Removed?

In general, drain tubes are usually removed within 3 to 5 days after the reduction procedure when the amount of fluid produced by the wounds has reduced. 

At this stage, the drains will no longer be necessary to promote successful healing, and the body can be allowed to continue to do its work unaided.

Is a Breast Reduction Worth It?

Many women find that breast reduction can have a transformative effect on their lives. A reduction can alleviate postural problems, help to ease lower back pain, or simply reshape their body in a way that makes clothing fit more comfortably. 

How To Reduce Drainage After Mastectomy

During surgery for cancer, nearby lymph nodes are often removed. This disrupts the flow of lymph, which can lead to swelling. This is lymphedema. Lymphedema can affect one or both arm, the head and neck, the belly, the genitals, or the legs. Swelling can worsen and become severe. Skin sores or other problems can develop. Affected areas are also more likely to become infected.

Often during breast cancer treatment, some or all of the lymph nodes under the arm are treated with radiation. The lymph nodes under the arm are also called the axillary lymph nodes. They drain the lymphatic vessels from the upper arms, from most of the breast, and from the chest, neck, and underarm area.

When many lymph nodes under the arm have been removed, a woman is at higher risk of lymphedema for the rest of her life. Radiation treatments to the under arm lymph nodes can cause scarring and blockages that further increase the risk of lymphedema. Lymphedema may occur right after surgery or radiation, or months or even years later.

Types of Lymphedema

There are several types of lymphedema:

  • A mild type of lymphedema can occur within a few days after surgery and usually lasts a short time.
  • Lymphedema can also occur about 4 to 6 weeks after surgery or radiation and then go away over time.
  • The most common type of lymphedema is painless and may slowly develop 18 to 24 months or more after surgery. It does not get better without treatment.

Lymphedema can happen any time after surgery or radiation to the lymph nodes. The risk continues for the rest of the person’s life. Lymphedema can’t be cured, but it can be managed. Any swelling should be checked by a healthcare provider right away.

There’s no way to know who will and won’t get lymphedema, but there are things that can be done to help prevent it.

Can lymphedema be prevented?

Women treated for breast cancer who have good skin care and who exercise after treatment are less likely to develop lymphedema. Newer types of lymph node surgery have also helped decrease lymphedema risk. But there is no sure way to prevent lymphedema.

Symptoms of Lymphedema

The main symptom of lymphedema after breast cancer treatment is swelling of the arm on the side where lymph nodes have been removed. The amount of swelling may vary. Some people may have severe swelling (edema) with the affected arm being several inches larger than the other arm. Others will have a milder form of edema with the affected arm being slightly larger than the other arm.

Other symptoms of lymphedema may include:

  • Feeling of fullness, heaviness, or tightness in the arm, chest, or armpit area
  • Bra, clothing, or jewelry don’t fit as normal
  • Aching or new pain in the arm
  • Trouble bending or moving a joint, such as the fingers, wrist, elbow, or shoulder
  • Swelling in the hand
  • Thickening of or changes in the skin
  • Weakness in the arm

If you notice any of these symptoms, see your healthcare provider right away. Treatment needs to be started right away to keep lymphedema from getting worse.

How is lymphedema diagnosed?

There are no tests for lymphedema. Instead, your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and give you a physical exam. You’ll be asked about:

  • Past surgeries you’ve had
  • Any problems after your surgeries
  • When the swelling started
  • If you’ve had severe swelling (edema) in the past
  • What medicines you’re taking
  • What other health conditions you have, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes

Imaging tests, measures of volume, blood tests, and other tests may be used to diagnose lymphedema.

Treatment for Lymphedema

Treatment depends on how severe the problem is. Treatment includes ways to help prevent and manage the condition, and may include:

  • Exercise. Exercise helps improve lymph drainage. Specific exercises will be advised by your doctor or physical therapist.
  • Bandages. Wearing a compression sleeve or elastic bandage may help to move fluid, and prevent the buildup of fluid.
  • Diet and weight management. Eating a healthy diet and controlling body weight is an important part of treatment.
  • Keeping the arm raised. Raising the arm above the level of the heart when possible lets gravity help drain the fluid.
  • Preventing infection. It’s important to protect the skin in the affected area from drying, cracking, infection and skin breakdown. Your healthcare provider will advise you about how to care for your skin and nails to help prevent problems.
  • Massage therapy. Massage by someone trained in lymphedema treatment can help move fluid out of the swollen area.

Preventing Infection and Injury

Protecting the arm on the side of the surgery is very important after breast surgery. Poor drainage of the lymphatic system can cause that arm to be more at risk of infection and less sensitive to extreme temperature. Be aware of activities that put too much pressure on the affected arm. To protect your arm from injury and infection, make sure to do the following:

  • Ask for injections and blood draws to be done on the unaffected arm.
  • Ask for all blood pressure tests to be done on the unaffected arm.
  • Don’t wear nightgowns or clothing with elastic cuffs or tight bands.
  • Carry your handbag or heavy packages with the unaffected arm.
  • Be very careful and use a clean razor when shaving underarms.
  • Prevent sunburns and other burns to the affected arm.
  • Wear gloves when gardening and when using strong household cleaners.
  • Clean the skin of the affected arm daily, gently dry well, and apply lotion.
  • Do approved exercises regularly to improve drainage.
  • Eat a healthy, low-sodium diet.
  • Avoid extreme hot or cold temperatures on the affected arm, such as hot tubs, saunas, and heating pads or ice packs.
  • Take good care of your fingernails and don’t cut or bite your cuticles.
  • Clean all cuts with soap and water, and then apply antibacterial ointment and a sterile dressing.
  • Protect your fingers from needle pricks and sharp objects. Use a thimble when sewing.
  • Avoid vigorous, repetitive movements against resistance, such as scrubbing, pulling, or pushing with the affected arm.
  • Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection, such as redness, pain, heat, increased swelling, or fever.

Common Problems After Breast Reduction Surgery

  • thick, obvious scarring.
  • unevenly shaped breasts or nipples.
  • wound healing problems.
  • loss of nipple sensation.
  • being permanently unable to breastfeed.
  • red or lumpy breasts if the fat dies (fat necrosis)

After undergoing breast reduction surgery, patients may experience a variety of common problems during the recovery process. These issues can range from minor discomfort to more serious complications that require medical attention. It is important for patients to be aware of these potential problems so they can be prepared and know when to seek help from their healthcare provider.

One common problem that patients may experience after breast reduction surgery is pain and discomfort. This is to be expected as the body heals from the surgery and adjusts to the changes in the breast tissue. Patients may also experience swelling and bruising in the days and weeks following the procedure. This can be managed with pain medication prescribed by the surgeon and by following post-operative care instructions.

In some cases, patients may develop an infection at the surgical site. Signs of infection include redness, warmth, swelling, and increased pain at the incision site. If an infection is suspected, patients should contact their surgeon immediately for evaluation and treatment. Infections can usually be treated with antibiotics, but in some cases, additional interventions may be necessary.

Another potential problem after breast reduction surgery is changes in nipple sensation. Some patients may experience temporary numbness or tingling in the nipples and surrounding areas. This is usually temporary and resolves on its own as the nerves heal. However, in some cases, patients may experience permanent changes in nipple sensation. It is important to discuss any concerns about nipple sensation with the surgeon before the procedure.

Scarring is another common issue that patients may face after breast reduction surgery. While surgeons take care to minimize scarring during the procedure, some scarring is inevitable. Scars may appear red, raised, or lumpy at first but will gradually fade and flatten over time. Patients can help minimize scarring by following their surgeon’s post-operative care instructions and avoiding activities that may put stress on the incision sites.

In rare cases, patients may experience more serious complications after breast reduction surgery, such as blood clots, seromas (fluid buildup), or changes in breast shape. These complications may require additional treatment or surgical intervention to correct. It is important for patients to closely follow up with their surgeon after the procedure to monitor for any signs of complications and address them promptly.

Overall, while breast reduction surgery can provide significant benefits for patients in terms of physical and emotional well-being, it is important to be aware of the potential problems that can arise during the recovery process. By staying informed, following post-operative care instructions, and communicating openly with their healthcare provider, patients can help ensure a smooth recovery and optimal results from their breast reduction surgery.

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