Last summer, I heard about a new product that was scheduled for release this year, and I was very enthusiastic about its potential. The product, Exparel®, is produced by Pacira Pharmaceuticals and is FDA approved. Exparel is an injectable numbing medication that lasts for up to 72 hours and is designed to replace the need for pain pumps. It is very similar to regular numbing medication except that it is liposomally bound, which means it is contained in little microspheres that allow for continuous release of the active ingredient over several days.
What this means for my Phoenix plastic surgery patients is that I can inject Exparel exactly where I need pain control – in areas of high nerve concentration, for example. The patient will feel dramatically less pain for 3 days following the injection, which is usually when surgical pain starts to decrease significantly on its own.
Exparel is not a narcotic, and it does not have systemic effects. It simply blocks pain in the area where it is injected. I have now used Exparel on a number of patients who have come to me for a Mommy Makeover in Scottsdale, and it has far exceeded my expectations. Pain control in the first 3 days following surgery is dramatically better than I have seen in the past, allowing my patients to get off pain pills sooner, move around much easier and recuperate with a lot less discomfort. Additionally, patients no longer need to hassle with pain pumps.
I rarely get excited about new products, but when I find one that changes my patients’ recovery in such a positive way, it’s hard not to be enthusiastic. Exparel is priced to be competitive with pain pumps, so I don’t feel that its cost makes it worthwhile for smaller procedures, such as breast augmentation, but for tummy tucks or Mommy Makeovers, I feel it’s the best innovation to come along in years.