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Understanding BRCA & HBOC > Breast Reconstruction > Preparation and Recovery

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Preparation and Recovery

This section outlines the many options available and information about reconstructing breasts following mastectomy.

Surgical drains

Surgical drains are plastic devices used whenever surgery leaves the opportunity for fluid build-up, which could delay healing, cause discomfort or invite infection. Often surgical drains are placed at the time of surgery with mastectomy or as part reconstruction. The tubes remain temporarily after surgery, usually for a few days or weeks, and are removed once post-surgery fluid buildup has decreased.

Part of the drain is placed inside the body at the surgery site and can't be seen. This part consists of a soft plastic tube with holes for the fluid to drain out of. This part of a drain cannot be seen until it is removed.

The drainage tube with the holes connects with a longer tube--the Jackson-Pratt (JP) drain, which remains outside of the body. At the end of this tube is a bulb which has a lid on it that can be opened to drain the collected fluid. The amount of fluid build up is measured to determine when the drain can be removed. After the fluid is removed, the bulb is squeezed so that it creates a gentle vacuum and the top is placed back on. This allows gentle suction of fluid from the surgical site. (Picture of a surgical drain.)

Updated 12/27/16

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