Tummy tuck recovery with Exparel injection has completely revolutionized postop pain management.
Dr. Tarick Smiley, one of the most prominent Beverly Hills plastic surgeons, uses Exparel in most of his tummy tucks. This drug is injected directly into the abdominal muscle right after surgery while the patient is still on the operating table.
Exparel is a type of local anesthetic (bupivacaine) that is slowly released into the surrounding tissue; its effects can last up to four days. According to studies, patients who had this medication took less pain relievers and were less likely to use narcotics than non-Exparel patients; they also recovered quicker because they breathe better, experienced less stress, and moved more freely.
(Note: Some patients require additional [oral] painkillers, while others may avoid them altogether; it really depends on their pain threshold.)
In addition, Exparel is a non-opioid medication and thus it is not addictive. According to recent studies, patients who use opioid/narcotics for more than three days postop face an increased risk of addiction.
This injectable drug lasts 3-4 days, which is the worst period of the post-surgical discomfort. Afterwards, patients might take non-narcotic pain relief for a few more days until they are able to tolerate the [slight] discomfort.
In the past, narcotic medications were the only option to minimize discomfort following tummy tuck or other surgeries. Aside from risk of addiction, they also have unfavorable side effects that include drowsiness, constipation, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
Then came pain pump, which is a small balloon-like device attached with a tube to slowly deliver numbing medications into the surgical site for three days. While it manages the pain quite well, due to its tubes and straps (worn by the patient that goes around the neck) it can restrict one’s movement.
To avoid any cumbersome device, Dr. Smiley now recommends Exparel injection to his patients.