5 Tips to Care for a Drain After Surgery

Drains are often used post-surgeries and procedures to remove fluid from a wound. This assists in preventing infection and creating an environment for the wound to heal. The type of drain that is used depends on the location and the type of surgery, but common ones include Jackson-Pratt, Hemovac, and Chest. 

It’s important to care for the drainage site after surgery to ensure the drain is working effectively, no leakage is occurring, and there are no signs of infection building in the area. Follow-up care and maintenance is important so we’ve compiled five easy tips to care for your drain after surgery.


Tip #1 - Use a Dressing

The type of dressing that you use can depend on the type of drain you have. We recommend using a dressing that well covers the drain site and incision. The dressing should be gentle on the skin so when you remove it, it doesn’t accidentally move or tug on the surgical drain. In addition, your doctor may ask that you keep track of your dressing changes and the amount of fluid.

CATH DRESSING is made of hydrophilic polyurethane foam which inhibits the area from bacterial growth. With a self adhesive tape with side openings, it allows for a secure fit around the drain and surgical area. Each dressing change is individually packed, disposable, and sterilized to make it an easy process to change compared to traditional dressing changes using dry Y-gauze.



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Tip #2 - Handle with Care

When handling your drain after surgery and emptying it such as the bulb of a Jackson-Pratt drain, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions so you can handle it with care. Common instructions include washing your hands with soap and water, using a gentle antibacterial soap, gently patting the area and letting it air dry before applying any dressings. 

If you have a catheter, we’ve compiled five tips to care for a catheter dressing change at home.

Tip #3 - Avoid Baths or Pools

Post-surgery, a warm and relaxing bath may seem like a favorable option but it is not recommended to take one immediately. It is recommended to discuss with your doctor for specific instructions, but there are reasons as to why baths may not be the best for your drain and surgery site. The warm water can weaken the incision and as it becomes wet and soft, it can affect the adhesive. 

However, you can still shower! We recommend that you cleanse the area around the drain gently with soap using a gauze or cotton swab, clean well, and avoid directly scrubbing the incision and wound area. After showering, pat the area dry with a clean towel each time and place a new dressing. 

Tip #4 - Avoid Overexertion

Typically having a drain in is not painful, but in order to ensure that it stays in place and doesn’t cause further discomfort, avoid any household chores and lifting heavy items until your post-surgery body has fully recovered. Avoid any activities that can cause the potential for your drain to be pulled and tugged at the skin, wound to get dirty such as swimming in a lake. 

Tip #5 - Stay Hydrated

Did you know that staying hydrated can give your body the nutrients needed for your wounds and sites to heal? You can easily stay hydrated by drinking loads of water, teas, milk, and fruits such as watermelon and strawberries. Water plays an important role in helping your blood transport important nutrients and can assist with wound drainage, especially after surgery. 

Always pay attention to your drain and inspect the area for any abnormalities. It is important to contact your healthcare provider if you notice that the tube falls out, skin becomes swollen near the tube, or the drainage fluid is cloudy in color. Now that we’ve provided tips on how you can care for a drain after surgery, we hope you have a safe and fast recovery!


Disclaimer: Please consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider for personalized medical advice. The contents of this website are intended for informational and educational purposes only and not to substitute professional medical advice.