Surgical Drain Locations After Breast Surgery

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Surgical Drains After Mastectomy and Reconstruction

Surgical Drain After Mastectomy With Implant Reconstruction
Surgical Drain After Mastectomy With Implant Reconstruction. Art @ Pam Stephan

When you have a mastectomy or lumpectomy, your surgeon may place surgical drains to help speed up your healing. These surgical drains may be called grenade drains, JP drains, or Jackson-Pratt drains. You will have a drainage tube and a drainage bulb outside your skin near your surgical incision. Part of the drainage tube will extend inside your body into the surgical area, where it will collect blood and lymphatic fluid. The drainage tube will be held in place with a suture, so that it doesn't accidentally slip out.

You will use the drain to measure the fluid daily, and keep a record of how much blood and lymph is removed. As the volume of fluid decreases, swelling around your surgery site should decrease. When the fluid volume is 30 ml or less in a 24-hour period, you can have the drains removed.

This illustration shows the location of two surgical drains. The model has a sentinel node biopsy to check for metastasis, so there is a drain line close to her armpit. She has also had a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, using a tissue expander. A second surgical drain has been placed around the temporary breast implant to collect blood and lymph. These drains help prevent lymphedema and hematomas from developing.

See Surgical Drains With a Simple Mastectomy

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Surgical Drains After Mastectomy Without Reconstruction

Surgical Drains After Mastectomy
Surgical Drains After Mastectomy. Art © Pam Stephan

For patients who have a simple mastectomy without immediate reconstruction, you may have one long incision that includes your lymph node biopsy as well as your mastectomy. Your surgeon may place surgical drains in your incision to help speed up your healing. These surgical drains are called by several names: grenade drains, JP drains, or Jackson-Pratt drains.

Each drain has a drainage bulb and a drainage tube outside your skin near your surgical incision. Part of the drainage tube will extend though your incision into the surgical area, where it will collect blood and lymphatic fluid. Each drainage tube is held in place with a suture, so that it doesn't accidentally slip out.

You will take daily measurements of how much blood and lymph collects in your surgical drain. It is important to keep a record of the fluid volume, because this determines how soon your drains can be removed. The swelling around your surgical site will decrease as you get less fluid out your drains.

This illustration shows the location of two surgical drains. The model has had a simple mastectomy and a sentinel node biopsy, so there is a drain line close to her armpit as well as at her breast site. She did not have immediate reconstruction. These drains help prevent lymphedema and hematomas from developing.

See Surgical Drains For a Mastectomy With Immediate Reconstruction

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