A new post-surgery pain medication recently launched means less pain for surgery patients. It’s called Exparel, and doctors say it can provide sustained pain relief for post-surgery patients far longer than any other drug currently available.  Dr. Richard Baxter, a board certified plastic surgeon from Seattle, Washington says Exparel is unique because of its long lasting numbing agent. He says the medication is injected into the wound at the time of surgery in a single dose, andreleased slowly into the bodyover three days.

By Carolynn Grimes

Dr. Baxter says there are real benefits for patients:

  1. Less reliance on narcotic drugs for pain
  2. Less pain in the most critical first three days following surgery

Dr. Brett Snyder, a board certified plastic surgeon says, besides long lasting pain relief, Exparel means an increase in the patient’s comfort and better outcomes. Snyder, a board member of ThePlasticSurgeryChannel.com says, “Using a topical, sustained release local anesthetic will reduce post-operative pain and therefore reduce post-operative narcotics, which will lead to quicker and better results.”

Exparel Receives FDA Approval

Developed by Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Exparel was approved in October, 2011 by the Food and Drug Administration and recently launched into the market place.  President and CEO of Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Dave Stack says, “This FDA approval is an important milestone for Pacira, as well as the millions of patients undergoing surgical procedures in theU.S. each year. We are excited to launch Exparel in theUnited States.”

Dr. Dan Del Vecchio, a board certified plastic surgeon and member of ThePlasticSurgeryChannel.com says Exparel combines Liposome, which is used to deliver chemotherapy and Marcaine which is commonly injected into surgical wounds to reduce pain. “For the past 20-30 years we haven’t made many advantages in post-operative pain management. We treat our patients mostly with narcotics,” says Del Vecchio.  He says, “The problem with narcotics is they can cause side effects.  In young patients narcotics may cause nausea or vomiting, in elderly patients they can cause urinary retention and respiratory depression.” Del Vecchio says, when you look at hospital stays for patients who have received narcotics and have had an adverse side effect, the average increase in a patient’s hospital cost is about 5-thousand dollars.   He says, “not only is it patient safety issue, it’s an economic issue.”

Exparel, a Good Pain Management Option for Plastic Surgery Patients

For plastic surgery patients, Del Vecchio says, “There’s obviously potential to look at our breast augmentation patients, andabdominoplasty patients, these are the patients that have significant pain in the post-operative period.” Controlling pain after surgery is a serious consideration for many people looking into any plastic surgery procedure. Dr. Baxter states, “I think this is a real advantage for patients; if I were going into surgery the idea of not having to experience the pain at least to the same degree would be a very appealing concept.”

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