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If underarm lymph nodes were removed as part of your surgery, or if you had breast reconstruction, a drainage tube may have been placed under your arm. Their purpose is to assist in the healing process by draining away fluid that collects in the area of surgery. If you have had breast reconstruction using tissue from your stomach area (called a TRAM flap) you will also have drains placed in the stomach area.
Drainage tube are essential for removal of fluid under the reconstructed breast for up to one week. Jackson-Pratt drainage tubes of 7mm or 10mm diameter are used in my practice for reconstruction of the breast and abdominoplasty to remove serous fluid and blood from the implant pocket. They may help to prevent seroma formation which may increase the incidence of capsular contracture and scar tissue formation. When the axillary lymph nodes are removed, lymphatic fluid may form a fluild collection referred to as a lympocoele that is amenable to drainage.
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