Managing Post Surgical Drains

Drain Types and Size

You may have drains for different reasons, some are small Jackson Pratt drains, others are large Hemovac drains or large collection bags.  Either way, care of those drains are important.

Protecting Your Surgical Drains

Managing your surgical drains is not easy. It is important to protect them. Managing drains I found difficult as I constantly got them pulled on drawer knobs, door knobs, countertops, and even the toilet paper holder.   I recommend Bracashirts to help you with this. Use the inside pocket shirts for privacy allowing discretion, and the outside pocket shirts for easy access when drainage is heavy and requires frequent emptying.  We also have hospital gowns with large pockets to secure your drains at night or for the first couple of days post-op. 

How to Care For Surgical Drains

Caring for your surgical drains is very important.  You need to regularly empty the drains and record the amount of drainage, as well as note the characteristics of the drainage (clear, red, straw coloured, or thick and cloudy). Note the puncture sites for signs of infection and monitor your temperature.  

If you need a spreadsheet to document your drainage email me I have one available or ask the clinical staff to provide one.

 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (Q& A)

  1. Why do I have drains? Drains are often utilized to help decrease fluid and inflammation in the surgical area. Sometimes drains are put in post-abdominal or mastectomy surgery. Monitoring the amount or type of drainage is important, ask your healthcare team when they need to be alerted.  Bloody drainage after surgery is common, it is important to measure and note the colour and consistency of the drainage.
  2. Can I shower with drains? Yes, you can shower with drains, (if your incisions are healing well). Always ask the doctor first when you go to your first postop appointment or call and speak to the office nurse or nurse practitioner!!   Plain shower soap and water is good. Shower safety is important get help.
  3. How long will the drains be in? Drains are often in for one week to a month or more, depending on the amount and characteristics of the drains, the site, and the reason for the drains.  Once the drains have less than 30 cc of exudate per day the drains will be removed. 
  4. When should I call the doctor? You should call your doctor if you pull out the drains, have a high fever, or if the sites look infected, or if the drainage goes from clear yellow-pink fluid to puss-like fluid. (thick tenacious yellow especially with odor).

    Contact  if you have questions, would like to learn more about the shirts, need a drainage tracking sheet.