Drains are an unfortunate part of the surgical process. But they do help you heal!
You may wake up from your surgery with a special surgical bra or corset. There usually are places to pin the drains to garment. There are other ways to attach your drains so they are out of your way. One is a satin ribbon tied around your neck and the drains pinned to that. Some women use an old pair of pantyhose for the same purpose. We have a drain belt that will be available soon for anyone who needs one. Please contact us for more information on that item.
Drains look like little hand grenades with soft, flexible tubing that is inserted into your surgical area. In order for them to work properly, you must make sure the tubing is clear of debris. This is usually hardened bits of fluid that has clotted in the drain. Hereafter we use the medical term “Goop” to describe this material.
Here are the basics to clearing your drains, or as some people call it “Milking” the drain.
Get alcohol pads that are individually wrapped. They work the best, but you can do it with some hand cream too.
Go to the top of the tube where the drain enters your body. Firmly grip the tubing with one hand and in the other hand hold the other end of the tubing close to your skin so you aren't pulling it out of your skin.
Then with your thumb and finger pinch and flatten the tube and pull down.
REMEMBER DON'T PULL UNLESS YOU SUPPORT THE TUBE AT YOUR SKIN WITH THE OTHER HAND!
If you have an alcohol pad use the pad against the tube, between your fingers, or, lubricate your fingers with hand cream. Pinch, flatten, and move down toward the drain. You will see goop moving when you do it.
HERE IS THE TRICK
When you get a few inches down, don't release the pressure on the tube. Keep it flat. Take your other hand that was supporting the tube at your skin and move it to where you have pulled the fluid/goop too. Pinch the tube closed right above where your other hand is. Really hold tight so the goop doesn't go back UP. When you have a firm grip, then slide down the tube again by pinching and flattening the tube. Repeat the same action by holding where you are tight with one hand and then move your other hand to the lower place and pinch it closed. Then start again. Keep doing this until the blockage and goop is now in the drain.
This may take several attempts, especially if you have clots. Sometimes you have to really work them to get them to budge. But you can clear them.
Then release the valve on the drain and empty. Make sure you squeeze out ALL the air from the drain before you recap it. That causes more suction.
It is important you measure and chart how much comes out. This is easily done by either having a plastic cup with measurement markings in CCs or if you have a large gauge syringe that you can draw the fluid up from the collection cup and see the amount drawn on the side of the syringe.
Keep a diary of the time and amount drained and remember to bring it to your surgeon.