A little about sutures,
staples and drains...
With a mastectomy (or partial mastectomy/lumpectomy) you will most likely have internal dissolving
sutures. On the outside, you will see staples or surgical tape strips called "steri-strips." The sutures will NOT have
to be removed. If you have staples, they will most likely be removed in about 7 days. Steri strips will be put in their
place. The steri strips will not shower off & the surgeon will remove them using a special adhesive remover once
your incision has healed enough.
After surgery, you will have 1 or 2 drain(s) called a Jackson-Pratt (JP) drain. This device
suctions and collects fluid from your surgical area. It resembles a hand grenade. You will usually have 1 in your chest and
one in your underarm (if you have had lymph nodes removed form your armpit). The drain promotes healing and recovery, and
reduces the chance of infection. The drain will be in place until the drainage slows enough for your body to reabsorb fluid
on its own. While you are hospitalized the nursing staff will care for the drain and teach you to continue to do so at home.
How to care for your JP drain(s)
1. Wash your hands thoroughly before emptying your drain(s).
2. Have the plastic measuring cup from the hospital ready to collect and measure the drainage.
3. Unpin the drain from your clothing.
4. Open the top of the drain. Turn the drain upside down and squeeze
the contents of the bulb into the measuring cup. Be sure to empty the bulb as completely as possible.
5. Use a piece of paper or notebook to record the amount of drainage twice
a day or any time the bulb is full. Record the total for 24 hours. If you have more than one drain, remember to
record the drainage from each drain separately.
To prevent infection, do not let the stopper or top of the bottle touch the measuring cup or any other surface.
Use one hand to squeeze all of
the air from the drain. With the drain still squeezed, use your other hand to replace the top. This creates the suction necessary
to remove the fluids from your body.
8. Pin the drain back on your clothing to avoid pulling it out accidentally.
9. Wash your hands again. Remember
to wash your hands before and after the procedure to reduce the risk of infection.