How to Care for Drains After Surgery

A surgical drain is a tube used to remove pus, blood or other fluids from a wound. Surgical drains are typically inserted after a tummy tuck, or procedure where excessive skin has been removed, resulting in a buildup of excess fluids in the body. If you will be having plastic surgery involving the usage of drains, you may feel daunted by them and wonder how to properly care for them until they can be removed.

Below is a strep-by-step guide for how to care for drains after surgery:

1. Milk Tubes Periodically
The idea of “milking your tubes” might seem odd, but making sure to manually squeeze out the contents of your tubes will ensure proper drainage of accumulated fluids. Doing so will reduce the risk of blood clots, bloating from excess fluids, and infection. When your drains collect less than 30ccs in over a 24-hour period, you’ll know it’s time to remove drains. This will be done at your scheduled post-op appointment.

Empty Fluids
How often you empty the bulb depends on how much fluid is draining. A good rule of thumb to go by is to empty the bulb when it is half full. The fluids being drained will slowly change color from red, to pink, to yellow and last to clear.

2. Clean Skin Around Drain Sites
It’s also important to make sure you’re regularly cleaning the skin around where the drains enter your body. These areas are especially prone to infection because they are technically open wounds. Cleaning your drain sites thoroughly will ensure skin stays healthy and free of infection or scarring.

3. Attend All Follow-up Appointments
If you have surgical drains, follow-up appointments are especially important to keep. During your follow-up appointments, you doctor will assess where you are at in the healing process and determine whether or not you are ready to remove drains. It is important to keep these appointments and follow all doctor’s orders for a smooth and speedy recovery.

While drains can be uncomfortable, for some procedures, they are crucial to a smooth recovery and to giving you the results you want. Follow these instructions and you should have no problem caring for your drains after surgery!