Post-Surgical Care for Cancer Surgery
Patients will typically have a sterile bandage placed on the wound and may have a drain inserted to prevent body fluid from collecting at the surgical site. This should help minimize swelling and pain, and also allow for quicker healing. Patients may have more than one drain. Each drain consists of a collection tube that is stitched to your skin so that it does not fall out. A small plastic plug at the end of the tube allows the fluid to be emptied. The color of the fluid may be dark red at first because of the large amount of blood cells in the area. Gradually, the color should change to pink-tinged and then finally a yellow straw color. The amount of drainage may vary. The more active you are, the more fluid will be produced. Gradually, the fluid will decrease.
Notify your surgeon if the following occurs:
- 100.5 F. fever or chills
- Increased areas of redness around the insertion site
- Increased swelling around the insertion site
- Drainage from the wound itself – that is the incision site and not the tubing
- Cloudy fluid that has a bad odor
- Your drain is collecting thick yellowish or green fluid
- Drainage bulb does not stay flat after being emptied
- Wound edges begin to separate
- Pain is not relieved by your pain medication
- Your drainage is increasing instead of decreasing, or if you have a sudden increase in drainage
The surgeon will remove your drain(s) during a follow-up office visit. This usually occurs when the drainage is reduced to between 20 to 50 cc (1 to 3 tablespoons) per a 24 hour period OR four weeks after surgery, whichever comes first. You may feel a pulling sensation with moderate amount of pain only lasting a few seconds when the drain is removed. A small bandage will be placed over the drain site. This will need to be watched for infection for the next several days.
Do not swim or soak in a tub for two days but you may shower. The site should close within 3 to 4 days. You may notice some fluid oozing from the site until healing occurs.