I had a bilateral mastectomy last week and came home with drains on both sides. The day after I was released from the hospital I took a shower, because I had been told I could. Shortly thereafter the drain on the right side stopped working. It wouldn't keep the suction. I saw the surgeon again thinking he would somehow fix the drain. Instead he removed it. I was told anything invasive could cause infection. I immediately developed seroma. Now the drain on the other side seems to losing its vacuum suction. Are the drains really that important? I called the surgeon's office and talked to the nurse. The impression I got is that it isn't that important and I should just wait until my next appointment. I also get the impression I being labeled a problem patient and don't want to make things worse. Should I just ignore this and wait until my next appointment, or is this something that should be taken care of? It is already painful. Without either drain, will the seroma get worse? I am already tired of this.
Drains are placed after mastectomy to enable to "serum" that collects in the surgical bed to drain away and collect into a bag. When the 24 hour drain output reduces below a certain level, it may be safely removed. Even so, fluid may continue to collect in the surgical site, forming a collection called "seroma". This may need to be removed by aspiration using a needle and syringe. For many patients, repeated seroma aspirations may be needed. Usually, there is no complication of seroma formation. Occasionally, infection may set in.
If you have pain or discomfort, please seek an appointment right away. There is no need to put up with unnecessary symptoms for fear of being labelled a "problem patient". You need not be defensive or shy in this regard. The surgeon has a duty to take care of all post-operative issues, and is not doing you a favor by seeing you.
All the best, and God Bless!
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