Drains remove and collect blood, pus, or other excess fluids that can collect inside your chest after surgery. If fluids are given a chance to build up, complications and/or infection can set in and healing can be delayed. Excess fluid in a post-surgical site can also cause pain and swelling. Drains also prevent the build-up of excess air.
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding normal drainage post-surgery:
How are drains cared for after surgery?
You will need to empty your drains twice a day (or more) and record the fluid output. Your surgeon will provide you with instructions about how to do this hygienically.
Are drains painful?
Pain associated with post-surgical drains tends to be related to either the incision site or the removal of drains. Icing can help with pain at the incision site. Having drains removed produces more of a weird sensation than pain. Some surgeons prescribe a pain killer to take beforehand, but this isn't necessary for most patients. Drain removal takes just seconds and it will be over before you know it!
When can I get my drains removed?
Surgeons follow different guidelines on this, but drains are usually removed when the fluid output is below 20cc – 30cc for a couple of days. In some patients, this takes about 5-7 days.