Before you let the word “pain” send negative thoughts into your brain, hear me out first. Each of us define pain differently – one person may say a piercing or tattoo is a 5/10 on the pain scale while another person of the same age, gender, height, weight, etc. may rank it a 100/10. Every single one of us is different so the responses to “how badly does it hurt on a scale of 1-10” is a subjective opinion that can vary greatly between each of us. For this reason, it’s typically a hard question to answer when my patients frequently ask about pain and recovery during their breast surgery consultations. As a male double board certified plastic surgeon, it’s true that I can’t possibly tell you what it feels like firsthand but I can go off what my patients have shared with me during their breast surgery recovery over the past 22 years – and that is that yes, it’s VERY manageable. In fact, managing pain after breast surgery has never been more effective than it is today and that is why I offer my patients Exparel® to help patients keep their pain under control.
It’s natural to be curious about pain after surgery and how it could possibly affect your recovery. No matter what type of surgery you have, experiencing some degree of discomfort or pain can be expected. The added benefit I offer my breast surgery patients is Exparel® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension) patient-focused pain control, or what I like to call the first step to your postsurgical pain management plan. Unlike other pain medications, Exparel® is not a narcotic medication and can help decrease side effects of needing narcotic pain killers to alleviate pain during their recovery.
The Exparel® solution is wrapped up in small bubble-like fat globules, called liposomes. As a longer-lasting pain reliever to Marcaine (a local anesthetic that typically lasts up to 6 hours), Exparel® provides extended time-release pain-reducing effects that can last up to 48 to 72 hours. During your breast procedure, I will inject a single dose of Exparel® directly into the surgical site to numb the surrounding area and introduce the liposomes into the treatment area which will help with those first few crucial days at home. Exparel® is a great alternative to pain pump systems frequently used during breast surgery because it doesn’t require an external drain or tubes to get patients the relief they need.
When most patients think of pain management they think of increased comfort. Yes, I want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible after coming out of your breast surgery, but I really want to encourage a speedy and effective recovery. This means that by not focusing on the physical pains, you’re able to focus on getting up and moving around (which increases your blood flow and circulation that aid in faster recoveries), and ultimately reducing the stress that you put on your body. When you’re focused on following your post-breast surgery tips and recovery instructions, come to all of your follow-up visits, and communicate your questions/concerns, then you’ll be able to really maximize the overall success of your results.