I got my drains removed today!!!!! If you’ve ever known anyone that’s gone through breast reconstruction, the drains are one sucky part of recovery. It takes some time to get used to the fact that you’ve got these tubes stitched into your armpit that drain out fluid (gross) that you have to measure each day! Ugh.
Let me explain why the drains are so annoying. Basically this is how it works in my most “Mandy” way of explaining it:
- The breast doc cuts straight across your boob and removes a section of the skin including your nipple. Yes, I no longer have nipples…weird!!!
- He then scoops out the breast tissue and removes it. I picture him actually using an ice cream scoop…I’m sure his ego is offended by my lame way of describing it.
- The Plastic Surgeon (or as my breast doc likes to say – the bigger ego in the room) then begins reconstruction. He separates your pec from your chest wall, places a tissue expander under the muscle, sutures all around so that he begins to recreate a new “harness” for your implant, and then positions drains under the tissue before he sews you up and puts you in a compression bra and sends you to recovery with really good drugs….there’s much more to it, but that’s the Mandy-abbreviated version.
- The drains are designed to remove fluid from your body so that it doesn’t collect and cause complications and seromas ala infection ala more surgeries ala longer time before you get your implants.
- Here’s a picture of a drain. I had 2 drains (one on each side). Some patients that also have lymph nodes removed may have 4-6 drains.
- The top portion is placed from the side of your chest under your armpit and a little bit under your incision: (This is not me – I’m actually bruised and yellow all over right now…I’m happy to share pics I’ve taken if you’re interested)
- Every day after surgery, you have to strip your drains and measure the fluid. Stripping means you squeeze the tubes and get all of the fluid to go down into the bulb at the end. This creates a suction effect so that the drains are actually pulling fluid out of your body. When you’re under 20-30 ccs a day and the fluid is clear-ish, you can have them removed. This is usually 14 or so days post op. This isn’t my drain either, although it looks a lot like it the day after surgery.
So you can imagine how annoying and weird this is…and how badly you want them GONE. It is amazing how quickly you get over the weirdness of it. In fact, my mother and I were determined to get these suckers removed because I was soooo close to meeting the requirements to get them out. We started setting an alarm and stripping them every hour to try and get “lefty” to cooperate. It was a success! So to make a short story long, explaining all of this helps me get to the point of this post…
I GOT MY DRAINS OUT TODAY!!!
(There’s a part two to this post…I’ll post it in a few minutes.)