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Surgical Drain Locations After Breast Surgery


Updated June 03, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Surgical Drains After Mastectomy and Reconstruction
Surgical Drain After Mastectomy With Implant Reconstruction

Surgical Drain After Mastectomy With Implant Reconstruction

Art @ Pam Stephan
When you have a mastectomy or lumpectomy, your surgeon may place surgical drains to help speed up your healing. These surgical drains may be called grenade drains, JP drains, or Jackson-Pratt drains. You will have a drainage tube and a drainage bulb outside your skin near your surgical incision. Part of the drainage tube will extend inside your body into the surgical area, where it will collect blood and lymphatic fluid. The drainage tube will be held in place with a suture, so that it doesn't accidentally slip out.

You will use the drain to measure the fluid daily, and keep a record of how much blood and lymph is removed. As the volume of fluid decreases, swelling around your surgery site should decrease. When the fluid volume is 30 ml or less in a 24-hour period, you can have the drains removed.

This illustration shows the location of two surgical drains. The model has a sentinel node biopsy to check for metastasis, so there is a drain line close to her armpit. She has also had a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, using a tissue expander. A second surgical drain has been placed around the temporary breast implant to collect blood and lymph. These drains help prevent lymphedema and hematomas from developing.

See Surgical Drains With a Simple Mastectomy

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