What is the Correct Timing for a Drain to Be Reinserted.

My drain fell prematurely from the Left arm-pit post a double masectomy expanders saline implants and right lymph nodes removal. Drain leaking approx 2 days prior to it falling out. Is it possible that if the drain not reinserted quickly that infection may occur.

Doctor Answers 3

Drain Tube reinsertion after Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction

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If you have not already I recommend that you contact your surgeon with this question - if I were your surgeon I would want to know what had happened.

Your surgeon will be best placed to advise you on what should be done in your case. Your surgeon will likely know whether the drain tube in question was placed where the lymph nodes were removed ("axillary drain tube"), or in the space around the expander/implant.

Speaking generally, if an axillary drain tube falls out prematurely I do not consider the patient to be at higher risk of infection simply because the tube fell out. Drains do not prevent infection, no matter whether they are in the axilla or around the expander/implant. They act to reduce the likelihood of fluid collections developing.

I do not routinely re-insert drains that fall out. If a patient develops a fluid collection (a "seroma") after the drain falls out then she may need that collection drained with a needle, or very occasionally she may need a drain re-inserted. Each patient and surgery is treated individually, and each surgeon may have a slightly different approach to management.

I hope this helps and please do get in contact with your surgeon.

Melbourne Plastic Surgeon

Drain issues post mastectomy surgery

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I recommend you see your plastic surgeon for an evaluation as soon as possible.  Depending on how many days your are after your surgery and what technique was utilized for your implant reconstruction may determine if a drain needs to be reinserted.  The concern is a fluid collection also known as a seroma.    A fluid collection can lead to a possible infection.  Please see your PS ASAP.

Drain fell out after reconstruction

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Call your surgeon today. Depending upon how far after surgery you are and how much was coming out of the drain, you may not need it to be replaced. But only your surgeon is in a position to make this decision. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

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.