What and Why
As previously mentioned, depending on your surgery you may have a different experience than I did. However, most people, reconstruction or not will wake up with a drain either side of their body. These are small tubes that enter your body just under where your breast were through a tiny incision. The tubes are then quite long so you can manoeuvre around easily. The drains will vacuum out remaining fluid to avoid it collecting behind your implants or under the skin if you have not chosen reconstruction. Different hospitals may use different shaped bottles, but fundamentally they do the same job.
The drains are annoying, there is no point sugar coating it. You have to carry them around with you, you are super vigilant that you do not catch the long tubes on anything and all in all they are uncomfortable. But as a rule, they don’t hurt as such, they are just a nuisance and get in the way.
You must invest in some drain dollies, they come in all sorts of colours and make life so much easier. These are small over the shoulder bags that you can place each drain in, leaving your hands free. Most drains will stay in for 2-3 weeks, therefore drain dollies will keep you sane! I went out with my drains still attached and the drain dollies kept them concealed, I also put a light shawl over my shoulders which kept them covered, the shawl was also useful in coffee shops to them pop on my lap to cover the tubes.
How the Drain Tubes Are Attached and What They Look Like.
I had exceptionally bad luck with my drains as they repeatedly kept becoming devac’d (de-vacuumed) which meant the left over breast tissue, blood and plasma wasn’t been sucked out and down in to the bottle. This was very unusual and despite having them changed several times, it kept happening! If this happens, contact the ward or breast team that were looking after you and they will advise you.
From what I understand most people have their drains in for 2-3 weeks, however as mine were insistent on not playing the draining game, I had mine removed after a 12 days. I was apprehensive about this as due to having ‘thin skin’ you could see where my drains went under my breasts and up through the middle of my newly reformed chest. So I knew how far they had to come out!
However, aside it being a tad awkward as you can feel something moving inside of you, it doesn’t hurt. My right side did not hurt at all and was felt like a very light tug feeling for 30 seconds. My left side snagged a little and I can only describe the feeling as a bit of a sting. But quite rightly as my doctor pointed out, it was no more painful than an injection.