Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Breast Cancer Fight: Surgical Drains Removal After Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction

After what seems like a very long time, I finally got to remove my surgical drain after nearly 3 weeks during my visit with Dr Jane on Wed 16 Nov 2022! *throws confetti* 

Surgical drains are tubes inserted into the soft tissue of your breast after surgery to help drain excess fluids that build up inside your body. This fluid is normal and fills the space where breast tissue was removed during surgery. If not drained properly, excess fluid may misshapen implants, cause infections, and other complications. 

Drains are left in until the fluid output reaches a low level. This is usually less than 20-30ml per day for two consecutive days, but according to a nurse at NUH Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Clinic, they prefer to take it out when it's about 10-20ml for a few consecutive days. Most drains are removed one to three weeks after surgery. If they stay in longer than three weeks, the risk of infection increases.

For the last few days, my fluid output was about 15-20ml. I think for the past 3 weeks, I used about 7 x 200ml bottles.. not to the full capacity but I changed about every 2-3 days when the suction cap popped out. 

The drain was inserted quite high up my chest and I thought it would be rather painful when Dr Jane removed it. However, it was really quick and I didn't feel a thing at all! Thank God for no infection either. 

So so happy to finally have it removed (◕‿◕) It was more troublesome than painful...

The drain hole where the drain is inserted into my skin is just below my left breast, on my top abs. During the first few days of surgery, it hurt slightly especially when I needed to crunch and move to sit up or lie down. After a few days, the pain subsided there but in the last few days, the drain site actually felt rather uncomfortably like something was poking at my skin, especially when I was lying down. Think it was the needle head. Did not require pain medication though. 

Dr Jane removed the surgery wound dressing and today I got to see my full left breast while standing for the first time when I went home. My skin has "fluffed" up more since surgery so the bottom part of my left breast's shape and size is similar to my right breast. However, the top part still looks kinda flat since there's no more breast fat tissue there, and my left nipple is much higher than the right so it looks really weird. Reminds me of Quasimodo... 

The first few days I felt so emotional over it. Probably from the shock of seeing how "bad" it was and sadness in my body change. I felt so ugly and such a "freak". 

I'm usually quite body-positive and take all my fat, scars, injuries and imperfections in my stride but this really tore me down. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful and I know I know... it could be much worst and the most important thing is that I can be healthy again, but still... it will need getting used to. 

Hopefully it will look slightly better once the implant settles properly. Dr Jane said we can add fat to fill out the empty space too next time. Oh well.

I told her that Dr Mikael thinks the tiny lump was due to fat necrosis and the skin discolouration was due to the injected dye used to locate my sentinel lymph node. She does not think so since there is no breast fat left in my left breast, and the discolouration doesn't look like that from the injected dye.

Anyway, Dr Jane was ready to remove the tiny lump but it seems to have gotten less smaller/ visible since my last visit. We will monitor and see how it goes and decide if I should remove it at my next visit with her 3 months later. If Dr Mikael wants to do anything to the lump when I see him next month, she said that she needs to be there just in case it affects the implant.

Dr Jane prescribed Dermatix Ultra {$80.25 per 15g gel tube - should last 2 months} for my scar-healing and Physiogel AI {$57.65 per 100ml cream tube} for the dry skin on my left breast. I can apply both 1-2x a day after showers. 

She also gave the go-ahead for me to start chemotherapy
Dr Jane 4th visit cost {including consumables & medicine}: S$433.88


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Before mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgeries

After mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgeries
Surgical Drains Removal After Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction 

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