When a mastectomy and breast reconstruction are completed, breast tissue is elevated off of the muscle on the chest and separated from the overlying breast skin. This type of surgery leaves behind raw surfaces that cause your body to create fluid. This fluid is called serous fluid and is a normal part of your body’s healing process.
If this serous fluid accumulates under the skin, there is an added risk of infection and poor wound healing. Placing a drain prevents fluid from accumulating after mastectomy surgery and thereby expedites healing and recovery.
Drains are needed for both implant reconstruction surgery and natural tissue flap breast reconstruction. Drains may also be needed for major breast revision reconstruction procedures, but only if a new raw surface is created under the breast skin during surgery. Minor breast revision procedures and those where no new planes are created typically do not require drain placement.
My preferred type of drain is a round silicone tube with channels that drain the fluid into a bulb. This type of drain easily slips out when it is removed, with minimal discomfort. In addition, channel drains are less likely to get clogged or have other problems as compared to other types of drains.