The fear of pain after any type of surgery is a concern for most patients. Sometimes the fear prevents patients from having surgery that they either need or want. This can happen when patients consider tummy tuck surgery. Fortunately there are new medications, and techniques that are available which help to control and eliminate most, if not all of the pain. The first step is to place local anesthetic (tumescent method) before an incision is even made. If the tissues are numb before an incision is made, the body, does not sense pain and thus reduces the initial reaction. It seems logical but most surgeons do not want to take the extra 15 minutes to put the medicine in and wait for it to work. Regional nerve blocks, called TAP blocks, are performed during surgery. These work to provide pain relief during the first night of surgery. Finally, Exparel is a new medication. It is a delayed release preparation of a well known long acting medication called Marcaine (bupivicaine). This is a local anesthetic which is injected at the time of surgery into the areas near the muscles and skin. This works to numb the tissues. The medication is slowly released over 4-5 days, keeping pain away during the early post operative period. With all of these new medications and techniques of pain control, most patients are much more comfortable and often will take only Ibuprofen for any residual discomfort. Certainly they take much less narcotic which allow them to be more alert and less nauseated. They have dramatically changes the way my patients recover. Most patients remark that they experienced far less pain than they imagined and are pleasantly pleased with their recovery.
What do you think? Feel free to comment. Stay well.