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Tuesday, June 24, 2008 michele, Community Member, asks

Q: aproximately how long does it take for draining to stop after lymph node removal

I had surgery on April 4th and the dr. removed a dozen lymph nodes, well 2-1/2 months later, i'm still going to the doctor 2x a week to get drained. She (dr) finally decided to put another drain tube in next week and leave it in for a few weeks. This doesnt sound normal as far as the length of time i have been draining. Can anyone answer this, i know everyone is different as far as surgery, healing etc. but i'd like to know if there may be something wrong as to why i continue to drain so much?


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Answers (4)
Angi, Community Member
6/24/08 6:38pm

I've never had a dr add a drain, but I have had several drains through-out my 7 breast surgeries. Some drains were removed after a few days, some drains I had in for 2 weeks or so but never more than that and I had 16 nodes removed.  I was always told that they wanted no more than 30cc's (?) come out per day per tube.  I also learned from personal experience that having a fever will make you drain more - so track your temperature through-out the day.  If you have a fever or you're sweating it out, your fluid out-put will be higher.

I would ask the dr what (s)he is expecting and if they are concerned about infection.  Ask about antibiotics.  Also check and see if your arm is swelling to the point that you have a "wing" - your under arm hanging and sagging low like filled with fluid.  You can request going to physical therapy to learn how to get that fluid out of your arm and move back through your system so that you can control your lymphedema - you can also get fitted for a compression garmet.

It does sound a little weird to me, but getting rid of excess fluid is important, because it removes infection from you body - but just as it drains, it can also work in reverse and infection can travel upwards - so make sure that the drain's suction is tight and working and also work on squeezing all tissue clots through so the tube doesn't get stopped up.

Good luck getting some answers from your dr and working on getting your drains removed!


michele, Community Member
6/25/08 3:40pm


I am currently on antibiotics and i have not had the drain tubes put in yet. I have been fitted for a compression sleeve and have been wearing it faithfully every day. I have talked to my dr. and am considering going to physical therapy to learn how to massage the arm and keep the lymphdema at bay the best i can. Im going to throw another question at you. how long after surgery (your last one) did you stop wearing sports bras? My dr. said that if i feel comfortable wearing a regular one that i could. I feel more comfortable in the reg. one and believe it or not it dosent hurt as much as the sports bra did.

I want to thank you for taking the time out to answer my questions, i really appreciate it.


Angi, Community Member
6/25/08 9:58pm

Michelle - My first surgery (just a one sided rad mastectomy) I was told nothing for 6 wks.  After my 2nd, I had immediate reconstruction (no node removal) and wasn't told either way at first - then my plastic surgeon told me not to at one point, then I had both expanders swapped out and that's when he found the return of cancer.  I have never left a surgery without tubes.  I have enough small scars on my sides to play connect the dots.  So I just had my last surgery to remove the rest of the cancer at the end of May.  I'm now in radiation and that dr tells me nothing tight - a tank ok, no sports bra.  However I have the slightest little lumps, so not much worth putting in "bra". - and when I still had one breast (after my first mastectomy) I stuff this fluffy potato looking thing the cancer society gave me in a tank top and had my MIL sew pockets in more so I wouldn't feel so awkward or look like a freak.

I can't beleive that you didn't originally have drains.  This does sound odd to me, yet if it is fluid lymphedema is vary manageable.  Mine was BAD at first, but now I have it under control.  I still get swollen sometimes, but I find myself putting my arm over my head and letting gravity do it's work when I lay in bed watching tv bedfore bed or when I first get up.  I hope you are able to get some answers and get it under control soon.


And sorry for not getting back to you sooner - radiation is making me SO TIRED!  i've been napping when I should be doing other things.  Just let me know if I can do anything else for you!


Wanda Steinbrunner, Community Member
12/ 4/08 8:03pm

My name is Wanda:

I had a lumpectomy, than she had to go back and scoop out some more, while

getting tatooed for Radiation, the doctor received a call and said I needed a

mastectomy, which I had done on 10-1-08 and the drain was in almost 30 days.

I am having reconstruction done, which is taking 2 more times of Saline put in the

left breast than I have to wait 2 months and she will do the reconstruction and

pull the right breast up to match the one they removed.  Hopefully I can get back

to some kind of being normal again.  I did not have to have radiation or chemo as it

was not in the lymph nodes (thank God) but I am taking the Cancer Pill, which makes

me sick to my stomach.  Just have to get use to it.  I just stay so tired and run down.

Take care,

Wanda   (E-Mail:

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By michele, Community Member— Last Modified: 05/15/13, First Published: 06/24/08