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An Introduction To Your Jackson Pratt (JP) Drain

A Jackson Pratt (JP) drain uses a vacuum suction to remove extra fluid and blood produced after surgery. Removing excess drainage reduces your risk of infection.  

The end of the tube is placed in your body near the incision. The collection container is compressed causing a suction to pull drainage out of your surgical site, through the tubing, and into the drain bulb.  

The amount of drainage should decrease each day and the color of drainage should become light pink or light yellow over time. Your doctor will want you to keep a log of the drainage amount and color every day.  


Caring For Your JP Drain

Always wash your hands before handling the JP drain. 

  • Each day you will need to milk the tubing, empty the drainage from the bulb, and log the amount and color of the drainage.  
  • Milking the tubing: 
  • Stabilize the drain tubing at the insertion site with one hand. 
  • With your other hand pinch the tubing near the insertion site with your thumb and index finger and slide the fluid towards the bulb.  
  • Milking the drain prevents clogging of the tube with old drainage.  

Empty the bulb: 

  • Remove the stopper. 
  • Pour the drainage into a specimen measuring cup.  
  • Create a new suction by squeezing the bulb completely. Replace the stopper prior to releasing your squeeze. The bulb should appear compressed but will expand as it fills with drainage.  
  • Secure the bulb to your clothing or body below the insertion site.  

Document the drainage on your daily log: 

  • Determine the amount of drainage by looking at the milliliter level on the cup. Write this number on your daily log. 
  • Determine the color of drainage (dark red, bright red, pink, light pink, light yellow, clear). Write the color on your daily log.  
  • Flush the drainage down the toilet.  

Showering And Sponge Bathing

Keep the area clean by showering or sponge bathing 48 hours after surgery. The drain tubing is held to your skin with sutures.  When bathing, secure the bulb to your body to avoid accidental removal.  Do not soak in a bath while the drain is in place.   

  • Shower: Allow water and soap to wash over the drain insertion site but avoid direct scrubbing. Gently pat the area dry with a clean towel. Leave the drain insertion site open to air and avoid using lotions.  
  • Tub bath: Do not take a tub bath while you have a JP drain.
  • Swimming: Avoid any body of water (including pools, hot tubs, whirlpools, oceans, rivers, and lakes) for 30 days after your surgery, or until approved by your doctor.   


Avoid running, jumping, strenuous exercise, or heavy lifting until you have been cleared by your doctor.  


Your Care Team

Contact Telehealth Nursing if you have questions or concerns, or if you experience any of the following: 

  • Fever over 101.5F 
  • The tube falls out of the body 
  • The bulb immediately refills with drainage after emptying 
  • The bulb does not hold suction 
  • Drainage becomes darker in color or cloudy 
  • Signs of infection: Swelling, redness of the skin, warm to the touch, uncontrolled pain, foul odor 

You can reach Telehealth Nursing by calling 651-220-3890 or toll-free at 800-719-4040.

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team. If you are a Gillette patient with urgent questions or concerns, please contact Telehealth Nursing at 651-229-3890.