Breast Abscess Drainage
What you should know
A breast abscess is a pocket of pus inside your breast. You can develop a breast abscess if germs enter your breast through your nipple. This may happen if you are breastfeeding and you have cracked nipples or you have had a breast infection. You may also get an abscess from breast problems that are not related to breastfeeding. Your breast abscess will be opened and drained so the pus can be removed.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Even after your abscess has been drained, the abscess could come back. If you do not have the abscess drained, you may develop a severe breast infection. If you are breastfeeding, the breast that had the abscess could become engorged (very full and painful). This could happen if you do not pump it often enough after the drainage procedure.
The week before your procedure:
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- You may need blood tests before your procedure. Talk to your caregiver about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
The night before your procedure:
Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
The day of your procedure:
- Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
- An anesthesiologist may talk to you before your surgery. This caregiver may give you medicine to make you sleepy before your procedure or surgery. Tell your caregiver if you or anyone in your family has had a problem using anesthesia in the past.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
- Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
What will happen:
You may be given medicine called local anesthesia that numbs the abscess area, or you may get general anesthesia. General anesthesia keeps you completely asleep. You and your caregiver will decide which type is best for you. A small incision will be made in your breast abscess. Your caregiver will break up the pocket of pus and wash it out with saline. He will put gauze in the incision to collect the pus, or he will leave a small drain in your incision. A sample of tissue and pus may be sent to a lab for tests. The incision may be left open to heal from the inside out. A bandage will be put over your incision to keep the area clean and dry.
After your procedure:
You will be taken to a room where you can rest until you are fully awake. Your breast may be numb at first. You may be able to go home, or you may be taken to your room. A bandage will cover your incision. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot be on time for your abscess drainage procedure.
- You have a fever.
- Your breast abscess problems get worse.
- You have questions or concerns about draining your breast abscess.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.