How to manage the wounds at the drain tube sites, at home?

These are tubes made of non-reactive plastic with varying pliability. These are kept in the surgical field to drain the fluid that is discharged from the raw surgical surfaces. They prevent these fluids from getting collected inside the body; as such collections may hamper healing and may later get infected. They are also used to monitor the healing process, where surgery is performed on hollow tubes like intestines, ureters, bladder, and bile ducts. Any leakage from these structures can be identified by the nature and volume of the fluid that is drained by these tubes.

When the fluid discharge from the raw surfaces is reduced to a minimum and when there is satisfactory healing of organs operated upon, these tubes are removed. The time period may vary based on the site of surgery, extent of surgery and patient’s recovery.

It’s not very difficult to manage these wounds at home. It requires minimal effort to take care of these wounds. They generally become dry in 2-3 days, after which no specific steps are needed to manage them. They heal completely by 7-10days.

The following answers will help you understand how you can take care of these drain site wounds.

These are very small wounds. They usually dry up in 2-4 days and heal completely in 7-10days.

After the removal of the tubes these wounds remain raw only for 2-4 days. Only in this initial period you will have to dress these wounds.

If the dressing is dry you can keep it on for at least 2 days. On the third day, you can remove it and check the wound. If the wound has become dry then you need not apply a fresh dressing.

No. The purpose of the dressing is to protect the wound and avoid external contamination.

If the dressing is dry, you have to change it once every 2-3 days.

However, if the dressing is not waterproof and you wish to bathe daily, the dressing has to change after bathing.

In the hospital we generally cover these drain site wounds with simple gauze pieces which are secured with adhesive tape. You can do the same at home. Gauze pieces and medical adhesive tapes are easily available in most of the pharmacies.

If you are not comfortable with the above method, readymade waterproof dressings are available (see below) which can be used to cover these wounds.

After removing the old dressing, inspect the site and look for any abnormal signs (questions 12 and 13). If the wound appears clean then you need not apply anything over it. Just dab the skin around the wound with a simple antiseptic solution and let it dry. Then apply dressing over it (question 08).

These are clean wounds. Hence we do not recommend applying any antiseptic lotion/ointment over them. However it is advisable to clean the surrounding skin with simple antiseptic like Betadine or Dettol or any other alcohol based antiseptic lotion.

If you are using waterproof dressing, you can take a bath without worrying about wetting these wounds.

If you are not using waterproof dressing then the dressing may get wet when you take a bath. Please talk to us and confirm if it is alright to take a bath when you are not using a waterproof dressing. If the wounds are healing well without any other issues, we do not usually advise against bathing. However, it is necessary to change the drain site dressing after bath.

Though uncommon sometimes a straw colored fluid may come out from the sites of the drain and wet the dressing. Usually this is minimal and stops in a couple of days.

However,you should contact us immediately

a) if you have to change dressing multiple times

b) notice foul smelling fluid or blood tinged fluid

c) any redness around the wounds

d) unusual pain

Generally the wounds at the drain site are very small (less than 1cm). After the drain tubes are removed usually there will be no discharge/fluid coming out from that site. And these wounds dry up within 2-4 days. You should contact us at the earliest, if you notice,

  • Redness and pain around these sites
  • Persistent discharge from these sites
  • Foul smelling discharge from the sites
  • Swelling at these sites

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