Is a month too long to have Jackson Pratt Drains in after bilateral mastectomy?

My plastic surgeon said that everybody is different with how long they have to keep a drain in after surgery. I understand removal depends on the plastic surgeons drain output requirement, but am a little nervous that I have had the drain in for far too long. Is a month too long?


F, 52, Utah

Tags:woman 1 month post-op nervous bilateral mastectomy drains

I've had a mastectomy, so I understand the draining process can be tedious, but it is necessary and beneficial. Try to relax, and trust your surgeon. My doctor explained to me that there is not a set time determined for the drain. The amount of time is dependent on the amount of fluid that is being collected from the drain tubes. When the liquid begins draining at less than three tablespoons in a 24 hour period, the surgeon usually removes the drain. Follow all of your doctors care instructions to keep the tube clean and carefully secured to your body. My surgeon also monitored the color of the fluid that was being removed. If it is just a cloudy yellow then you are okay, but if you see some redness and are experiencing a fever make sure you contact your doctor right away. It sounds like you're really nervous, but be patient and ask your doctor lots the questions. I wish you the best of luck. The process is worth the positive outcome!

I understand your concern. I had my Jackson Pratt drain in for five weeks! I hated every minute of the experience, but I liked that it was draining all that excess fluid from my breast and reducing my risk of infection. Everyone drains differently. Just be patient and know that your doctor has advised you to keep the drain in, so he can make sure that all the fluid is out of your body, and you can heal properly. If you keep the area surrounding your drain clean and empty your drain a few times a day, you will reduce your risk of getting an infection. Most importantly, if you notice any signs of infection such as swelling, pus or weird odors, or you are experiencing pain, call your doctor.

I inquired into how long I would have my jp drains in because the thought of them seemed cumbersome and inconvenient. I was told that the length of time varies from patient to patient. Leaving them in too long can cause issues like an infection. However, taking them out too long can result in problems that may result cause a build-up of fluid in the surgical site that needs to get drained. My drains were in for four weeks. My doctor was looking for the drainage to be lower than 20 ccs of fluid for at least three consecutive days before the drains were removed. The duration that a drain stays in is really more about drainage levels than it is time.

It is really true that everyone is different when it comes to surgical drains! I had a jackson pratt drain on each side and one was removed after only six days, but then the other one didn’t want to cooperate. It was producing 50cc’s every day even after seven weeks and I was definitely going crazy.

I found a recommendation from a friend that I should sew pockets inside of my shirts. If you place them a little under the tubes then you can put them in there and it may make you feel a little better.

Honestly, while you may be producing a lot of drainages you may want to talk with your doctor about how much longer you need to wear them. I know that the longer that they are in, the greater the chances of infection.

I hope that your drainage build up goes down soon!