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Breast Abscess Drainage


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.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine.
  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
  • Anesthesia:
    • Local anesthesia is medicine used to numb an area of your body that will have surgery or a procedure. The medicine may be given in an injection, cream, gel, or patch.
    • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

During your procedure:

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 may be taken to the recovery room. You may then be able to go home, or you will be taken back to your room.

  • Activity: Your caregiver will tell you when it is okay to get out of bed. Call your caregiver the first time you want to get up. If you feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away, and call your caregiver.
  • Drains: If you have a drain, it will be taken out when the abscess stops draining. Instead of a drain, gauze packing may be placed in your incision. The fluid collects in the packing and will be removed later. A bandage will be put over the incision.
  • Medicines:
    • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
    • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and to help prevent vomiting.
    • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
      • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
      • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.


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.


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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.