Q:  What should I do after returning home from breast surgery with a drainage tube?


A: During the first stage, followed immediately after surgery, the drainage tube is constantly monitored by nurses to ensure proper function. This period may cause you some discomfort in movement and if pain or swelling occur, it is necessary to report these symptoms to a Breast Care Nurse.


Once at home, you are advised:

  • To take medication (painkillers) as prescribed by the doctor
  • To wear comfortable clothes from natural material
  • To avoid exposing the wound and drainage tube to the sun
  • To avoid sleeping on the side where the drainage tube is inserted
  • To avoid taking a shower/bath (to prevent the wound from getting wet)
  • To prevent the drainage tube from bending
  • To wear a bra that supports the drainage tube and avoid underwire, lace and plastic
  • To wear a shoulder strap holder to provide support when walking/moving
  • To obtain a medical certificate if you plan on travelling



At the time of discharge, you are provided with a card that includes all necessary information about the drainage tube and the simple steps to follow at home for proper use. The card also includes a small space to write down notes about post-operative symptoms and descriptions about the amount of fluid emanated from the notches of the drainage tube. This information will prove useful for the doctor during a follow-up appointment in order to properly evaluate the wound healing process.


After removal of the drainage tube, serum may build up in the breast or armpit. You may need to drain it through an evacuative puncture, which is performed upon dressing the wound every 3-7 days until the doctor says otherwise or once the serum is reabsorbed within the body. The liquid can reform itself for about 4-5 weeks after removal of the drainage. It is important not to suspend the recommended rehabilitation exercises when swelling appears under the armpit, in order to avoid the formation of adhesions that connect the internal tissues. In case pain occurs, taking painkillers is recommended as well as continuing rehabilitation exercises (such as physiotherapy) once you are discharged from the hospital.