Types of Normal Wound Drainage

If you or a loved one has had surgery recently, you may be concerned about the surgical incision site—how to care for it, what it looks like, and if it appears to be healing properly. Drainage from a surgical wound can tell you a lot about whether the site is healing properly or not.

If the drainage is clear or slightly yellow or tinged with pink, it means you are having usual drainage after surgery.

Here's a closer look at the various types of normal drainage.

Clear Drainage

Clear, thin, and watery drainage is called a serous exudate. This type of fluid is normal from a wound in the early stages of healing, typically in the first 48 to 72 hours after the incision is made. While this drainage is normal in small amounts, large amounts of it warrant a call to your surgeon or another healthcare provider.

In some cases, serous fluid can actually weep from the skin, even where there is no trauma or incision. This typically happens in response to a medical condition or after massive amounts of fluid are given, such as during treatment for severe trauma.

Slightly Pink Drainage

This discharge is normal in the early stages of healing, as the blood is present in small amounts. A very small percentage of blood in the fluid can make serum appear pink.