NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s a new trend in plastic surgery.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, a development has led to a nearly pain-free tummy tuck.
Stacy Falk described the pain she felt after her procedure 13 years ago.
“Sharp knifing pain – contractions, kidney stones, soreness,” she said.
It’s not because she has a low pain tolerance.
“Tummy tucks, breast implants, breast reductions and lifts, liposuction – those are the cosmetic procedures that hurt the most,” Dr. Zacchary Gerut said.
Now, compare that to Tara Kahn’s experience with her tummy tuck just six weeks ago.
“It didn’t hurt. I felt just very tight, like maybe I went to the gym and did too many sit-ups. That was it,” she said.
What made the dramatic difference in pain relief? A relatively new local anesthetic called Exparel.
“It’s a very slow time release formulation, and people get the injection before they wake up and they have no pain whatsoever for days after the surgery,” said Gerut.
The surgery itself is done exactly the same but at the end, the doctor injects the Exparel anesthetic into the whole surgical field.
The secret to its long action is that a conventional local anesthetic is encapsulated in a serious of tiny fat globules that act as a sort of time release device, maintaining pain control for days. After which, plain Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen is usually enough, avoiding opioids.
The downside? It works too well.
“Since they’re pain free from day one, they may move around too much and actually do some harm to the surgery,” Gerut said. “So you have to be careful.”
“I like to walk. I started walking two weeks later, and now I feel absolutely fantastic,” said Kahn.
There is one other downside: the cost. It adds about $500 to the surgery. But when you’re spending thousands on a procedure, it’s not that much extra and you avoid opioid pain killers with all their possible side effects and addiction risks.
Exparel is also being used after joint replacement, oral surgery, spine and obesity surgery – almost anywhere post-op pain relief is needed.