After surgery, shedding and oozing of cells and bodily fluids continue at the surgical site. To increase healing and decrease the chance of infection, a wound drain is used to help this process.
After surgery, there is continued oozing and shedding of cells and bodily fluids at the surgical site. Removal of this fluid speeds healing and decreases the chance of infection. This is done by a wound drain.
These instructions are a guide for properly caring for your drain.
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The drain is made up of a piece of tubing with a collection bulb at the end. It is possible for clots to form in the tubing and block the outflow of fluids. To prevent this, it will be important for you to "strip" or "milk" the tubing occasionally. To do this:
You might need to empty the drain 2 to 3 times a day (or more), depending on the amount of output. Here are your steps to do this:
If instructed by your doctor, you may shower with the drains in place. Attach them to an old belt or cloth strap to limit the amount of pulling on the skin and to avoid the risk of pulling the drain out accidentally.
The drain will be removed in the office at your doctor's discretion. Accurately reporting your output will help the doctor's decision to pull or leave your drain in place. Try to record your morning output at about the same time each day.
Make sure to bring your drain output chart to every postoperative office visit. (See sample chart below.)
Note: Using this information, your doctor will let you know when your drains are ready to be removed. Please call your doctor’s office to make that appointment.
Also note: Drains are routinely not left in longer than 2 weeks but if you have questions about your specific case, call your surgeon.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/21/2018.
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