20+ User-Submitted Stories About What Drain Removal Is Like After Surgery

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After you undergo a mastectomy, your doctor will insert surgical drains to suction out fluid in the space where the tumor and breast tissue were. Sometimes, drains are also put in for lumpectomies.

Surgical drains are long rubber tubes that have plastic bulbs on the ends that hang down outside your body. The bulbs create suction and allow the fluid building up in your breast area to easily drain. The incision where the tubes enter your body will be stitched close, and the drains will be left in for at least a couple of days and up to a couple of weeks. You’ll have to empty the drains regularly, and keep the incision site clean and dry to avoid infection.

Then, your surgeon will remove them. The process itself is quick — less than a couple minutes — but the levels of pain patients experience vary. Some people feel nothing during the drain removal but a tug, while others experience pain ranging from slight to severe.

Hear straight from followers of The Breast Cancer Site Facebook page about what it felt like for them. First, we’ll start with the painful…

(NOTE: Some comments have been edited for grammar or clarity.)

The Painful Experiences

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/kieferpix

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/kieferpix

10. A quick second
“Felt like my whole insides were being pulled out!! I screamed really loud! But pain only lasted a quick second! I was just overjoyed to get those things out! It was bad, but certainly not the worse pain I’ve ever felt!!” – Sharon

9. It’s insane
“It’s incredibly PAINFUL!!!!! Never experienced anything like it in my life !! They snip the stitches , then tell you to take a deep breath and the nurse just pulls them out !!!! It’s insane , I hurt for two days after mine were taken out , that burning searing pain I’ll never ever ever forget.

“It was so intense that when they pulled my right side I threw up. I had talked to other ladies and no one I talked to had this experience, they were all shocked , but my left side wasn’t removed at the same time , it was removed two weeks later and it was just as bad. My anxiety kicked in when she had me lay back to remove them… I know when they took out the right side I bled for a full day , the left side I only bled for about 6 hrs. I had dime size clots coming from both sides and they said that was normal and still took them out 💔😢” – Starla

8. Burning
“Mine burned when they pulled them out.” – Caryn

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Photographee.eu

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/Photographee.eu

7. Years later…
“Ten yrs later I still have stabbing pain where my drain was.” – Dixie

6. Depends on who does it
“I really think it depends on who is doing the removing. I had a bad experience with my first drain removal. The Dr in that day wasn’t in the room, he had the intern do it. Well this guy had never done it nor seen I done. He left and asked the Dr the procedure then came back in. He grasped it then gave an almighty yank, it slipped out of his hand so didn’t come out but the shock and pain that went through my body… I swore never again. I left the office drains still intact. Got home cut my own stitch on each one and proceeded to slowly remove each one. Doing it myself I didn’t feel anything but an odd sensation of movement. Mind you when my Doctor was back in town for my next appt I had an earful for him.” – Stacey

Click “NEXT” to read about more drain experiences.

C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband and dog.
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