Why are the Drains Needing to be Kept in for a Week After Breast Reduction?

Why so long? There is hardly any draining after the 4th day and they cause me more pain and irritation then the stitches.

Doctor Answers 8

Breast reduction and drains

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In most cases after a breast reduction, the drains can be removed once the drainage falls below a certain volume.  Most plastic surgeons will keep drains in until the drainage is less than 30 cc per drain per day. If the drains are becoming uncomfortable and the drainage is minimal, check with your surgeon.  They may decide to remove the drains earlier.

Drains after breast reduction

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Plastic surgeons usually use suction drains after breast reduction surgery to prevent fluid collections known as seromas.  Most plastic surgeons prefer to leave drains in place until the daily output is equal to or less than 30cc for a 24 period per drain.  I do know some plastic surgeons that remove drains the first day after surgery as long as the outputs are not exceptionally high.  Any specific concerns you have about your drains should be discussed with your plastic surgeon.  Hopefully, they will be able to provide you with their rationale as to why the drains are in place and when they will likely be removed.

Kelly Gallego, MD, FACS
Yuba City Plastic Surgeon

Drains after Breast Reduction

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Thank you for the question. 

There are a variety of different ways to deal with drains;  I would suggest you communicate with your surgeon letting him/her know about the “pain and irritation” as well as the lack of output.  Hopefully your surgeon will remove the drains  sooner than planned.

Best wishes.

Drains After Breast Reduction

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I rarely use drains in breast reduction as they do not make a difference in the final result. In rare cases with much oozing or fluid drainage, they may be used for more than a day. Ask your surgeon if yours can be removed now.

Drains Can Usually Be Removed When Volume Is

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I typically remove drains when the volume for the preceding 24 hour period is 30cc or less.  I would always err, howevr, on leaving the drains in too long (where the only problem is discomfort) than removing them too soon when there is a good chance of seroma formation which neither you nor your surgeon willl be happy about.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon

Drains after surgery

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In general, if there is no fluid draining, then the drains can come out.  However, you should discuss this with your surgeon to ensure that you are both on the same page for your post-operative care.


Good Luck.

Number of days for drains after breast reduction

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I typically leave drains in for one day only, but this will vary from surgeon to surgeon.  If there is still active drainage, they may be left in up to a week.  If your drainage has subsided they most likely can come out. Contact your plastic surgeon to ask to be evaluated for drain removal.

Drains after breast reduction

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There is no formula for the length of time which drains should remain in breast reduction wounds. Generally, I remove them between 3-5 days after surgery when the drainage has dissipated although continued pronounced drainage would be an indication to keep them in place longer. I suggest that you call your plastic surgeon to report the limited amount of drainage in your case and inquire whether the drains can be removed now.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.