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Caring for a Surgical Drain

A surgical drain is meant to keep fluid or infectious material from building up at or near the site of a surgical procedure. It does exactly what it sounds like it does: drains blood and fluids away and out of the body.

If you've never had a surgical drain, then there are chances you might fear it. But don't worry here in this article, you can read guidelines given below to how to properly care for your surgical drain to avoid further complications and discomfort.

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  • If you are sent home with a drain, be sure to protect it, making sure it doesn't dangle freely or in such a way that it could be accidentally dislodged. Some drains come loose when too much weight is placed on them.
  • Avoid bathing in a tub when you have an incision that has not completely healed or a drain in place unless your surgeon says it's safe to do so. 
  • Take the time to inspect the area around the drain for signs of infection, just as you would a surgical incision.
  • You may need to empty the drain twice a day—and more often if it gets full. Your doctor should tell you how often he expects you to change the dressing. He may even want you to document the times you do this and note the color of the fluid.
  • Some people use bandage tape that can be purchased at a drug store to keep the drain near the incision site and securely in place.

It is always recommended to wash your hands before the following steps:

Remove the dressing from around the drain.

Clean the skin around the drain site with soap and water. Use a cotton swab.

Wait for the area to dry before putting on a new dressing. Follow the specific instructions from your doctor (since they can vary).

Wash your hands again with soap and water.

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