Every plastic surgeon and every breast surgery is unique. And the decisions your surgeon makes about your surgery and your aftercare will be tailored for just you.
Some of the things your surgeon will do have a firm scientific foundation, some are their preference (based on their experience) and some are a bit of both.
One example of this is post surgical drains. Some plastic surgeons use them routinely, some surgeons don't, and some surgeons use them in certain situations.
Read on to find out more...
Drains After Breast Surgery?
Let me give you some basics first!
Breast surgery causes space between your tissues (because of the cutting bit) and your body's response to this is to make fluid (called serous fluid).
It has a genuine purpose... it carries the stuff your body needs to heal the area. But if too much fluid builds up it can interfere with healing, cause pressure on the incision site, and create an environment where bacteria can grow and cause an infection.
The solution is to place drains.
A drain is simply a plastic tube with one end inside an incision in your body near your breasts (placed while you're still asleep, after your breast implants have been placed) and the other end leading to a plastic bulb which looks like an egg.
If drains are placed, they help rid the body of the excess fluid build up for anywhere from the first 24 hours up to a couple of weeks after your breast surgery. How long you have drains depends on the type of surgery you have and the amount of fluid that continues to drain.
Drains are not used routinely in breast augmentation.
If it’s your primary (first time) breast augmentation you shouldn’t need drains after your surgery.
But there are some instances where your plastic surgeon may choose to place drains:
- If your implants are placed under the muscle (because there's more surgical trauma to cut the muscle)
- If there is excessive bleeding during the breast surgery (to help prevent a 'hematoma' - a build-up of blood in the breast)
- If you have a revision surgery (because there's more surgical dissection) or an internal bra (e.g. to repair implant displacement)
If you're getting textured implants your surgeon will more than likely use drains.
Textured implants are designed so that the body 'sticks' to them to hold them in place (which is really important for shaped implants as it stops them rotating).
If there's fluid around the implant it stops the tissues adhering to the implant so drains are often used to help draw the fluid away after breast surgery.
Are Drains a Pain?
Drains are... strange.
Drains shouldn’t be painful or uncomfortable but they can feel pretty weird!
There’s a little stitch to keep the tube of the drain in place, and you may find maneuvering with the bottles takes a bit of getting used to... basically, you have to carry them around with you.
To minimize any potential disruption drains can cause be sure to ask your plastic surgeon their preferences on drains so you can plan before your breast surgery.
The main nuisances with drains are:
- Having to carry them round with you – ask your surgeon for a “belt” to pin your drains to
- Showering can be tricky with drains in – but you may only feel like a sponge (or shallow) bath anyway
- There's more chance of infection the longer the drain is in – make sure you take all of your post-surgery antibiotics
- Having them removed is another strange feeling - but again, it shouldn't be painful
Drains may sound like a pain, but it can be reassuring to know that if your surgeon plans on using drains they will benefit your recovery. The good things about drains include:
- Less pain in the early post-op period
- Minimize swelling and bruising
- Speed up recovery
- No need for tight pressure dressing
- Reduce chances of capsular contracture
Other than in the case of textured implants, the usage of surgical drains after breast augmentation surgery is highly plastic surgeon specific. Be sure to add this as a question to your pre-surgery consultation question list for your surgeon.
Above all, you should find a Board Certified plastic surgeon who you like and trust and let them make the decisions based on their preferences and experience. And if this includes having drains... ask why!
Confidence in your breast surgery and your surgeon is key to having a good boobie journey :)