By Sherri Roberts Lopez
The recovery from tummy tuck surgery just became more comfortable thanks to Exparel—a new long-acting local anesthetic that Houston plastic surgeon Dr. Chris Patronella is pleased to provide to his tummy tuck patients. When injected into the abdominal muscle wall—the area that is the most common source of discomfort following abdominoplasty because of the muscle wall repair that takes place—Exparel delivers relief for 72 hours or more before the body absorbs the anesthetic.
Patronella says the anesthetic, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2011, is a welcome breakthrough in pain management, eliminating the need for patients to tote around a pain pump the first week after surgery while also providing them with more effective pain control since it is injected directly into the muscle wall tissue, as opposed to medication being infused over the tissue, as it is through a pain pump.
“I’m finding that the use of Exparel makes the overall recovery experience more pleasant for my patients, ” said Patronella. “They are able to get up and around more quickly after tummy tuck surgery, thereby speeding their recovery, particularly during the first three to four days, which is typically the most uncomfortable stretch of the 10 to 14 day recovery period.” Additionally, the surgeon noted the anesthetic reduces the frequency and amount of pain medication that patients typically require, lessening drowsiness, constipation, nausea, and other unpleasant side effects that can sometimes occur with their use.
Patronella participated in a clinical study to evaluate Exparel’s safety based upon follow-up exams with 94 women who received the anesthetic in conjunction with breast augmentation surgery. He and his colleagues’ research was published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal—the official publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery—in February 2012.