Do You Need Drains After a Breast Lift? [Explained]

Dr.Edna Skopljak

Dr.Edna Skopljak

Edna Skopljak is a Doctor of Medicine. She has over 10 years of experience in the medical field. She is also a volunteer at several organizations, and is always looking for ways to improve the health of her community.

Do you need drains after a breast lift?

This decision will be made by your surgeon. And if you don’t know what surgical drainage tubes do, then here’s a quick primer.

Surgical drainage tubes may be inserted into your breast’s soft tissue to remove excess fluid following the procedure. Moreover, there are some risks and benefits of having surgical drains.

And in this article, we will provide insight into the various aspects of having, caring for, and understanding the purpose of surgical drains following a breast lift.

How are drains used in breast surgery?

The surgical drains are used to remove excess fluid that is produced as your breasts heal from the procedure. However, a buildup of these fluids can cause discomfort and infection and can hamper your recovery.

Therefore, the drains are inserted to ensure the patient a smooth healing process.

The drains are inserted into the soft tissue of your breasts, with a bulb at the end of the drainage tube that will collect excess fluid. When the bulb is full, you just need to twist it off and replace the bulb with a new one which your surgeon will provide, or rinse out the full bulb before twisting it back onto the tube.

How long do you have drains after a breast lift?

Depending on the surgery and the patient, the drains will be kept in place for anywhere between 24 hours and two weeks. Moreover, some patients have the surgical drains removed before being discharged from the hospital; however, if the fluid buildup persists, the patient will go home with the drainage tube and extra bulbs.

From there, once your body is no longer producing excess fluid, your surgeon will remove the drainage tube. Also, keep in mind that removing the drainage tube is painless, but it might feel strange, and many patients have described it as having a worm removed from the insertion site.

Benefits of using drains after a breast lift

Surgical drains come with several benefits for the patient following the breast lift procedure. For example, the drains will prevent the excess buildup of fluid from bloating the wounds, which can harm the healing process and cause worse scarring.

Moreover, the drains will minimize the patient’s risk of infection or developing seromas (accumulation of serous fluid) and hematomas (a pool of blood under the skin or soft tissue). Furthermore, your surgeon will place the drainage tube and bulb in a comfortable place that will not bother you too much, such as under the armpit or on either side of the chest.

Accordingly, you can tape the tube and bulb to your body to prevent it from tugging at the incision sight and dangling in an awkward place.

Risks of using drains after a breast lift

Unfortunately, surgical drains come with some risks. For example, if the drains are left in place for too long, the patient can develop an infection. Apart from that, the tube can get clogged with a blood clot, which can be removed when gently massaged.

But, it is possible to minimize the risks of surgical drains. For example, keep the insertion site clean and dry, and contact your surgeon concerning any complications.


Do you need drains after a breast lift? While some do not need the drainage tube after the procedure, many surgeons recommend the drains to their patients to ensure they achieve the best results following their breast lift. Moreover, surgical drains are an important component that helps ensure the patient’s smooth recovery following a breast lift.