The use of drains in surgery

“Will I need a drain as part of my surgery?”

This is a question patients often ask and it is best answered in this way:-

In operations such as abdominoplasty, breast reduction and breast augmentation where the surgery is not limited to the visible incision on the skin but also involves extensive dissection of the tissues beneath the skin.  This means that until these tissues have healed, there is a potential cavity which could fill with blood or other fluid.  So in these situations a drain should be considered.  The advantage of inserting a drain tube is that any blood or tissue fluid will be drained away resulting in less bruising and quicker recovery.

If the surgery is relatively minor and does not require extensive dissection then a drain will not be necessary.

Another advantage to the use of a drain is that, before the drain is removed, local anaesthetic can be inserted into the drain tube making the tissues numb for the rest of the day. We routinely do this following breast augmentation and this is why our patients are so comfortable following surgery.

Modern drain tubes are made of silicone and have a very small diameter.  This means that they can be removed easily without any pain.  As the inconvenience of a drain is minimal, and as it is often required only for the first 24 hours after surgery, it makes sense to insert a drain for operations such as abdominoplasty, breast reduction and breast augmentation not only to reduce bruising and swelling but also to improve our patients comfort through the use of local anaesthetics.