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Excessive Drainage after Mastectomy

MtnMama3 Member Posts: 11

Hi Ladies,

Not sure if this is right forum, but I'm wondering if anyone has had their post-surgery drains in for longer than 3 weeks?  I'm on Day 22 and I'm still producing 50 ml on each side.  Dr. says they shouldn't come out until I'm below 20 ml. each side.  How can I help that along?  Why am I still producing so much?  Are there pros/cons vs. pulling drains too early or leaving them in too long?  Just looking for any feedback possible.  Thanks so much!



  • baywatcher
    baywatcher Member Posts: 50


    Is it possible that you are being too active? I believe that you need to take it very easy and keep compression on your chest. I know that the drain is a major pain, but you don't want to pull it too soon as your chest will just fill up with fluid (which is called a seroma). Several ladies on this board believe that the seroma could lead to future lymphedema. Please take it easy.

  • Survivor07
    Survivor07 Member Posts: 7

    I knolw the drains are a pain but you should listen to the doctors and leave them in until you are draining the 20 ml.  I pulled one of mine too early and kept having to go back in every 3 or 4 days to have the seroma that developed drained.  And I have a high pain tolerance but that HURT.  They would have to poke around (with what seemed to be a knitting needle) to "find the pocket."  I'd listen to the docs, though, and leave them in.

  • MtnMama3
    MtnMama3 Member Posts: 11

    Thank you for both of your responses.  I won't push the docs to remove them as I am still draining quite a bit!  I think they're worried about infection, but as long as I stay on the antibiotics I should be ok I guess.  I wonder if there's some downside to the extended use of the antibiotics though.  It's always something!

  • lago
    lago Member Posts: 11,653

    When they slow down it seems like they do very quickly. For me the downside of antibiotics is yeast infections.

  • JustJudi
    JustJudi Member Posts: 6

    I had this problem, as It would slow for a bit, and I thought finally, then it started again well over 20 finally when I went in for post op exam, this was at 25 days they took the drain out. The nurse said that sometimes the drain aggravates it whole situtation after a while. I never had any problem once they removed the drain.


  • AnacortesGirl
    AnacortesGirl Member Posts: 119

    I had 3 drains.  First two came out on day 10.  But the last one didn't come out until day 25.  And even then it was doing 25-30 ml.  But the surgeon looked at it and said that it was basically plugged and not doing much good.  Got it out and for the next 12 hours it was draining like mad!.  It would soak the multiple gauzes and run down my side.  But then it healed over and I never looked back.  Boy did that feel good to get that last one out!

  • MtnMama3
    MtnMama3 Member Posts: 11

    I have an appt. tomorrow with PS, but I am still averaging 40-50 ml and I am on day 26.  So discouraging.  And isn't it true that I can't start chemo until I'm all healed up from the surgery too?  Thanks for all your stories!

  • barbe1958
    barbe1958 Member Posts: 7,605

    You must be moving around too much. NO housework, NO groceries, NO nothin' but lying around and indulging in the treats of the season!

  • marilyn2345
    marilyn2345 Member Posts: 1

    .sounds awful, had mastectomy 2/9/ll and drains removed in 4 days bu amount was below 40 on each side.  I still have swelling below armpit which wraps acrossed breast to same thing on other side.  It is very painful, but doctor says that my body will reabsorb the fluid in about a month and that this is normal.

    Don't know if this was right thing or not, but I never heard of 65 days of drains.  Does anyone ele out there know what is right?  Apparently as long as you have drains you will produce drainage.  Best of luck to  you.

  • VickiSam
    VickiSam Member Posts: 106

    Are you 'milking' your drainage tubes...?  I lugged around those nasty tubes for about 10 days .. 2 in 1 breast, and 3 in the other ... ugh!  I did NOT have tubes after my bi-lateral mastectomy ..  a drop in my right breast .. warrant another reconstructive surgery, and 2 more drains!   I grew tried of draining and measuring .. 

    After drainage tubes removed, I leaked for days ..covered each opening with gauze and sterile tape -- changed dressing every few hours. Nasty ..

    Good luck ..

    Vicki Sam 

  • SAMayoFL
    SAMayoFL Member Posts: 63

    I hate to tell you this but I had one drain tube in for three weeks and the only reason the BS pulled it out was because it started leaking outside instead of inside.  He pulled it out in his office and drained it with a syringe for two or three days.  Since he was still getting so much fluid, he scheduled me for surgery on the fourth day, put another drain tube in and I had that one for a stinking week.  He said I was young and juicyEmbarassed.  After reading the other ladies' posts, I will say I am not much of one for slowing down or laying around.  I went back to work 4 days after my mastectomy - drain tubes and all.  UGH!!!  I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!

    I promise you that it will come out one day soon and you will do a happy dance when you are free of tubes!

  • Sonnet
    Sonnet Member Posts: 10

    Day 38 here - my BMX with LD reconstruction was on January 12. I started with 6 drains - 1 in each breast, and 2 on each side coming from the waist/hip area.  Now I'm down to one on each side, but they are still draining like mad!  They go up and down some, but to use today as an example, I had around 100 ml on one side and around 85 on the other.  I really am not doing much, but I am driving a little, and doing things like going to my daughter's school conference or going into the pharmacy to pick up a prescription.  Also - I do have some skin necrosis problems.  Might this be adding to the drainage issues? Any other thoughts?

  • Katarina
    Katarina Member Posts: 99

    Day 30 here for 1 drain that is still producing. My doc said he's pull it by day 32 (Monday) regardless.

    I wonder if that means I'll start to feel signs of lymphedema?  

    Anyone with experience (good / or bad) on drain pulled when still producing avg. of 44cc a day??


  • Pam1
    Pam1 Member Posts: 2

    I am so glad that I found this site.  I had a double mastectomy on May 4th  due to ILC with drains out 2 weeks later.  Now I have fluid build up in one side.  There is no pain and it is not red or hot but very full.  Everything that I read says that my body will start absorbing it soon.  I go back to the Dr. on June 2nd.  Should I let him know what is happening before then?  Any thing that you all can tell me will be so helpful.  I go to the oncologist June 8th to find out about treatments.  Lymph nodes were negative. 

    Thanks Pam

  • Pam1
    Pam1 Member Posts: 2

    Called Dr. this morning and he said to put ace bandage as tight as I could stand it.  My body will start absorbing the fluid.

  • rosaramentol
    rosaramentol Member Posts: 1

    Hi - My double mastectomy was on May 2 so that was over 4 weeks ago!  Im desperate to get them out.  The one on the right seems to be ready at 35 to 40 but the drain on the left is still at 70.  Im watching this thread closely for any tips.  Going to Nickelodeon Hotel in Orlando on Friday to have a nice weekend before I start chemo on June 7.  Would love to have them out by then.  I just joined this forum and Im looking forward to learning lots.  I have a 7 week old baby and a six year old.  My lump was discovered in the hospital when I went in to have my baby :(

  • zeezza8
    zeezza8 Member Posts: 1

    I am on day 16... had large lumpectomy... will start chemo soon, and probably additional surgery in the form of mastectomy in about 5 or 6 months.... and I am still dealing with a lot of drainage. I asked if I was doing to much, aggravating etc... all doctors and nurses told me to keep doing regular activities.... doctor did tell me he expected me to have a little longer period of drainage because of the size of tissue removed. So... I am dealing... but... I just saw some of your posts that say to rest and keep compression... MAKES SENSE TO ME.... SO I AM GONNA TRY IT.... so I applied small pillow and a scarf to keep me tight and going to be less active .... and see if this helps me... and I will repost with results !

  • cbecchetti
    cbecchetti Member Posts: 3

    I am on day 26 with BLM with Reconstruction and still have 2 tubes in.  One has been at 35cc for almost 2 weeks and the other just fell to 50 cc yesterday.  I am trying to keep still but it is hard and the family is getting tired of doing everything.  I had lots of fluid after my lumpectomy on the same side that is draining more, I could even hear the fluid moving around, the surgeron said it would just be reabsored like others have said bu the PS says no - they want to wait until at or below 20cc.  Yesterday the tubes themselves turned a pink color and the blubs tonight are also that color.  I am concerned that this maybe a sign they are getting too old.  I have appt tomorrow so will see what the PS says.  I so want the left one out so I can sleep on my side again.

  • momoftwo526
    momoftwo526 Member Posts: 105

    I had drains in for 9.5 weeks! Yes, that is not a typo --- 9 1/2 weeks with those darn tubes.  I accidentally pulled a drain early in my sleep and developed a seroma.  My PS finally pulled the last one out at 50 cc's because he was concerned with how long it was in. After about 6 weeks, I couldn't take it anymore and I became more active.  I went back to work after 7 weeks, so I worked with the drain in for 2.5 weeks!


  • Patriotic
    Patriotic Member Posts: 30

    Ahh....drains. I had Uni NSM and AND on Oct 17th. The axilla drain was out in 7 days but the breast drain just kept churning and the fluid did go down but only to about 40 cc's per day. At 4 weeks, the PS agreed to remove it. But, 10 days later, another drain had to be reinserted to handle all the fluid. Now, I am still producing between 50-65 cc's per day and 20 days with drain 2. Stinks! This little setback is now delaying my rads, unfortunately.

    So, the fluid color is good now (lighter/yellowish) but, I am dying to figure out how to get the damn thing to reduce. Help! :). I am not great with being immobile. I have 2 little kids. I am not doing any wild or crazy exercises. I do get PT 3x wk to help with range of motion. This is with the PS's blessing. Any other ideas? I am willing to try compression. Even asked the doc about a low-salt diet. Anything, at this point.

  • Patriotic
    Patriotic Member Posts: 30

    Momoftwo526, I sympathize with your 9 1/2 weeks. My rad Onc stated that maintaining drains for many weeks is not unheard of. I just wasn't warned and thought 2-3 weeks would be the max. Boy, was that out of whack with reality!

    Anyway, glad yours are out!

  • Klstutzman
    Klstutzman Member Posts: 2

    I had BLM, no recon, April 4th. I am still having well over 100 ml a day. For the first 3 weeks I did nothing. The left side fell out 2 weeks ago and I have to go in Wednesday to have it drained. I have so many questions. How can you tell if you are healed? I have no pain around my incisions. Sometimes on my right side where I have all the fluid I feel like it is sucking the life out of me. The muscles really get tight especially if I express the tube. This fluid thing is really bothering me.

  • DonnaKay
    DonnaKay Member Posts: 6

    I had BLM on April 3. I had 45 nodes removed on cancer side. That drain is still producing over 100 per day. I do have compression on it. I lost the other 4 drains during normal ranges. I did have expanders put in. I keep being advised to slow down, but I am really not doing anything to slow down from. Just want you to feel normal.

  • DonnaKay
    DonnaKay Member Posts: 6

    I had BLM on April 3. I had 45 nodes removed on cancer side. That drain is still producing over 100 per day. I do have compression on it. I lost the other 4 drains during normal ranges. I did have expanders put in. I keep being advised to slow down, but I am really not doing anything to slow down from. Just want you to feel normal.

  • katieq
    katieq Member Posts: 1

    I have gone through reconstruction twice. The first time the expander folded over and had to b replaced. The first time drain was in 4 weeks. This time I am going on 8 weeks. I started this process in May at 155 pounds I am now a human marshmallow at 170. I was very active with horses, weights, jogging plus I drive a 300 ton haul truck for work at a gold mine at the age of 57. This drain is draing my life. I have called doc and they tell me to b patient! Patience is not one of my virtues! Finally called local doc who prescribed a mild tranquilizer to help me cope, which has helped tremendously. How long can this go on? What r some tricks to help speed up this process? I have seen postings for compression which I just did anything else obviously by the weight gain I am doing very little. What about binding the arm?

  • LiLi1964
    LiLi1964 Member Posts: 9


    I feel a little better (well, I guess more informed and comfortable is a better way of putting it) that others are having the same problem I'm having.  Today is 9/1, had my BMX on 8/7.  2 tubes removed at 5 days but the 2 remaining simply refuse to go down.  I swear, they continue to drain the same amount as they had been 3 weeks ago and I want these flippin things out in the worst way.  PS explained the danger in doing that, and I agreed the last thing I want is to remove them too soon and end up with infection which would lead to TE's being removed.  But I am so frustrated.  I had hoped to see some advise here; I will not be less active as I did that post surgery for the first 3 weeks and fluid output never decreased.  Got tired of sitting around so I took my employers offer to do some work at home and started doing that - also started doing small chores around the house - so I am not overdoing it by any stretch of the imagination.

    I'm shocked, SHOCKED by the 9 weeks!  Why is that?  Why is it so different from woman to woman?  I mean, taking tubes out at 5 days vs 9 weeks is a huge difference and I'm confused as to why that is.  I do not want to return to work with 2 drains hanging off my waist (I work in an office that must interact with the public - it's not like I have my own personal office I can hide in with these disgusting things); I was fitted with a compression camisole about 5 days ago but the feel of the material against my chest drives me nuts (and forget about putting in the temp protheses in the cami - more pressure, more hurt!).  I was told I should not wear a sports bra or any tight garment of that sort until 10 days after tubes are removed.  PS told me I could go "natural" and that's what I'm doing because everything else is too uncomfortable.  I thought at going on 4 weeks post surgery was nuts, but I guess it's nothing compared to what I'm reading about some of you very unfortunate ladies (and I must say I hope not to join your little group!).

    I'm destined for chemo probably in a month - if I am one of the very unfortunate and still have these tubes in, will that delay the start of chemo?  I thought with chemo you need to be so careful with infection and it seems with 2 drains stemming out of the body - well there's a good area for any infection to start.......  I'd like to hear what you others have experienced with that.

    Will be watching for responses - I thought I was really on the outside of the margins at 3+ weeks but apparently I'm not as unfortunate as I thought (so very glad this discussion board lets us all connect and share our experiences - it has really been a relief to chat with others dealing with the same issues).

    Wishing you all well!

  • moonflwr912
    moonflwr912 Member Posts: 5,937

    Hello. I am on my third try at implants. First time after my BMX, my drains were in 5 and 1/2 weeks. Lost that TE due to infection at 7 weeks post bmx. THAT is the fear when drains are in too long. Too soon and you have seromas too long and infection.

    Second time had them in 3 weeks. Repeat above scenario. Now have had 2 drains one removed after two weeks. My other drain was putting out over 120 cc daily. ( clear but a lot)After almost 4 weeks, went back in to surgery this Wed, PS found a small tear in lymph vessle. Drainage today for ALL day was 30. Color is red again but lighter than on Thursday (OUTPUT was 40)and Friday ( output was 35) Best news is I still have my TE in. Third times the charm, REPEAT,REPEAT!!!!! LOL DRAINS SUCK!!!! And not just literally...... LOL.

    I do remember though that it did slow down the other times just not on schedule.

    Good luck to all. Much love.

  • moonflwr912
    moonflwr912 Member Posts: 5,937

    Wren, it does help to know what other people experience. I love BCO for that reason.

    A thought occurred to me. Have you been stripping the tubes? I use an alcohol patch it makes it slide right down. So easy. Dont know why that makes a difference but it does. Just take the pad, wrap it around the tubing, hold on to the tubing near where it comes out, and slide. With your fingers you never seem to get the tube empty. With the pad it is actually flat from being emptied completely. I cant count the number of nurses I taught this trick to. My first nurse at my BMX taught me. Sorry for the lecture but it is such an amazing difference I like to share it! LOL. Much love.

  • laurie2025
    laurie2025 Member Posts: 28

    I had 1 drain in for 4 weeks, and I stripped them all 3 times a day.   It was just slow I guess.  When it slowed down it slowed down FAST, like overnight.  One got pulled too early and I had to have it drained numerous times, so I didn't push for the 4th one to be removed until it was ready.

  • aviva5675
    aviva5675 Member Posts: 836

    I have one drain left of 2 from bmx w/te on 8/23. It went from about 30 on Thursday to 15 Friday and has been at that all weekend. I got tomorrow to get it out. Finally. Tho from reading here, 2 1/2 weeks isnt so awful. First drain came out at 4 days.