A waterproof mastectomy drain bag holder is an essential item for a breast cancer patient after surgery.
And I must admit, until recently, I wasn’t familiar with the pre and post-op necessities for someone having a mastectomy.
After I connected with people at Bay Area Cancer Connections, I was much more informed.
I also came away with a variety of ideas on how to make items to support people fighting breast cancer.
There are still so many things on my list, though! So I will be working my way through them as best I can.
This waterproof mastectomy drain bag holder has been in my mental queue for a long time. I’m excited to share them with you, finally!
What Are Mastectomy Drain Bags?
According to verywellhealth.com surgical drains, “perform an important role in healing after breast surgery.
Fluid often builds up in the area where a breast is removed and can cause discomfort and delay healing if it is not drained…The location of your drains will depend on the surgery you have, but often includes a drain at your mastectomy site and one in your armpit if you have lymph nodes removed.”
These small plastic bulbs continue to drain excess fluid after surgery, so patients have to carry the drains around with them 24/7.
Since the drains may stay with a breast cancer patient for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, drain care management is extremely important.
For breast cancer patients this involves managing both the tubes and the drainage collection ports.
So, patients need to keep the drains secure so they don’t pull on a wound site or swing in a way that could catch on things.
Drain management doesn’t involve a single solution because it’s dependent on a person’s daily activities.
For daytime management, many people use an inexpensive canvas tool belt (above) throughout the day.
Or, people find various garments that solve this issue.
There is even a DIY shirt solution for drain bags that involves getting large, button down shirts at the thrift store and sewing drain-sized pockets to the inside of the shirt.
As you would imagine, there are also drain bag holders offered in several different styles.
The challenge with most of the existing drain bag holders, however, is that rarely are they something that can easily be used in the shower.
Enter Create To Donate’s waterproof, adjustable mastectomy drain bag holder.
A Simple Approach To A DIY Mastectomy Drain Bag Holder
When I was designing this double mastectomy drain bag holder, I wanted to keep the materials as cost effective as possible while also keeping the construction steps to a minimum. (Yes, it’s an ongoing theme with me.)
I played around with a variety of waterproof options for the holders and for the strap and landed on the materials outlined below.
This tutorial secures the strap with sewing, but you can do this as a no-sew project with fabric glue if you prefer.
Or, you can use two strap adjusters and skip the glue!
Drain Bag Holder Materials And Tools
These are the materials and tools you’ll need to make these waterproof mastectomy drain bag holders.
Every time I think about neoprene, I am reminded of a surfer’s wet suit and, of all things, knee braces.
Most people hear “neoprene” and think about their collection of “coolie cups” that keep their beverages cold in the summer heat.
So, this material is the solid waterproof option for the drain bag holders. It also has two pre-cut holes at the bottom where the excess water from the shower can drain easily.
Those two reasons alone made this pre-fab item a very desirable supply option.
When you also consider that neoprene koozies are easy to find, come in a variety of patterns and colors, and are not expensive. They are clearly a perfect fit.
My first thought for a waterproof material I would need for the project was PUL.
There were too many downsides, though, to this type of material.
The most glaring thing was that PUL isn’t cost effective. It would also add several more steps to the process and I wanted to keep it simple.
I would prefer to spend my time personalizing the drain holders instead of sewing a straight line through squirmy PUL. Wouldn’t you?
So, I landed on polypropylene webbing…
Webbing is easy to find in a variety of colors of webbing and strong enough to keep the drain holders from feeling flimsy when worn.
Polypropylene webbing also does not absorb water quickly making it better resistant to mildew.
3. One strap adjuster
The strap adjuster is a very important part of the design, because this allows the person to adjust the length the drain bag holders easily.
4. Scissors (a smaller size with a pointy tip is best)
You need scissors to cut a slit through only one side of the each of the neoprene holders.
This is one of the few times my handy rotary cutter won’t do the trick.
5. Sewing machine
The sewing necessary for this project will take you all of 2 – 3 minutes, tops.
This can be a no-sew project, if you want, but I still prefer the security of thread over fabric glue.
6. Fabric pencil
You will use the fabric pencil to mark where you need to make the slits. Sometimes you can wing it with projects like these, but this isn’t one of those times.
The lighter is used to finish the edges of the webbing. You could also use a match if you don’t have a lighter available.
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4 Easy Steps To Make A Drain Bag Holder For The Shower
Step 1: Use the lighter or match to singe both ends of the webbing to prevent fraying.
Take the lighter or match and singe the both ends of the webbing to prevent them from fraying.
When the mastectomy drain holders are complete, one end will be hidden by stitches, but having the hardened end makes it easier to sew.
The other end of the webbing will be used as the adjustable ‘pull tab’.
Step 2: Make a small 1″ slit in one side of each of the drain holders.
The slit should be centered 1″ down from the top edge of the coolie sleeve and 2″ from the side edge.
To do this, use a fabric pencil (or even a real one, actually) to make a mark 1″ from the top and 2″ toward the middle point of the neoprene drain holder.
Insert the scissors into that marked point and cut .5″ in the direction the scissors are pointed.
Then, turn the scissors around and cut .5″ in the opposite direction.
The total slit is 1 inch.
Step 3: Slip webbing through slit of one holder, sew to secure.
Take one end of the webbing and insert it into the slit pulling it toward the inside of the neoprene mastectomy drain holder.
Pull 1.5″ of the webbing through the slit and fold it over.
Sew the edge of the shorter piece of the webbing to the longer piece to secure it.
I used a satin stitch to enclose the edge of the webbing and making it super secure.
I also sewed a rectangle with an “X” through the pieces just like I would bag handles. This should only go to the top edge of the drain holder.
You do not want to puncture the neoprene so that it continues to hold its shape well and doesn’t have any holes that might make it uncomfortable in the shower.
Step 4: Connect the two drain bag holders.
To connect the second mastectomy drain bag holder to the first, you need to thread the webbing through the strap adjuster.
The webbing needs to be threaded partly through the buckle before you insert the webbing into the slit of the second drain holder.
Then, you double back to create the ‘other side’ of the strap adjusting.
There are detailed pictures below on how to make this work.
Detailed Pictures On Connecting The Mastectomy Drain Bag Holder
Thread the webbing through the back half of the strap adjuster.
Pull the strap adjuster higher up on the webbing so you have enough to pull through and ‘circle’ back.
Pull the webbing through the hole in the second neoprene holder.
Take the end of the webbing and place it through the middle hole again.
Then, wrap it over the end bar and place it through the last section of the strap adjuster.
OPTIONAL STEP: Personalize The Mastectomy Drain Holder With A Mantra
If you are making this mastectomy drain bag holder for a family member or friend, personalizing it is always a nice touch.
You can use heat transfer vinyl, cut out a design, and apply it to the neoprene with a home iron or heat press.
In need of some new ideas? Here are some inspirational mantras to consider.
You can download a ZIP file by clicking the “download” button below.
Print-friendly Tutorial: Mastectomy Drain Bag Holder
- Sewing machine
- Use the lighter to singe both ends of the webbing to keep them from fraying.
- Take both neoprene holders and mark a middle point 1" from the top and 2" from the edge.
- Use that mark to puncture a hold through one side of each of the neoprene (soon-to-be) drain holders.
- Cut a .5 inch slit in each direction of the hole on each of the holders.
- Slip one end of the webbing through one of the slits toward the inside of the holder.
- Pull the webbing through 1.5 inches.
- Fold the webbing over and sew the end to the main strap to secure. Use a satin stitch (if possible) to finish the end.
- Sew an "X" across the entire section of webbing to sew the two pieces to each other. Do not pierce the neoprene.
- Start threading the webbing through part of the strap adjuster.
- Slip the other end of the webbing through the opening of the second koozie.
- Take the end of the webbing and thread it through the 'end' of the strap adjuster.
- See the detailed post for step-by-step visual instructions on how to thread the webbing through the strap adjuster.
- You can use lightweight or heavyweight polypropyele webbing.
- If you would like to add an inspirational mantra, click here to view and download the FREE Create To Donate design option(s).
As an member of certain affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Waterproof Drain Bags Holders Support Post-Op Patients
The peace of mind this holder will provide a breast cancer patient is immeasurable. So I hope that you found this mastectomy drain bag holder ‘pattern’ helpful.
If you make one, please share it on social media and tag #createtodonate so that I can repost it.
Share The Goods
What items do you make to support local breast cancer-focused nonprofits or organizations?