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Jun 28, 2012 8:05 PM

Make Me Over: Exparel, a new local analgesic

TUCSON - The fear of pain after cosmetic surgery is one of the main reasons why people postpone surgery or elect not to have the cosmetic procedure at all.

Now there is a new local analgesic that can last up to 72 hours with just a single dosage. In the past, once the anesthesia wore off patients had to start pain medication. Now with the new numbing agent Exparel (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension), pain can be relieved for up to 3 days without the use of narcotics. This new option in post-surgical pain management is being used by Dr. Gwen Maxwell with very positive feedback from patients.

Dr. Maxwell stopped by the News 4 Tucson studios today to discuss this new option. Below you can find information from her discussion with Allison.

How it works:

During the last phase of surgery, prior to placing the closing sutures, the surgeon injects Exparel slowly into the deep muscle tissue, upper tissue, and connective tissue along the incision site. The medication is released over time to provide up to 72 hours of relief.

The Benefits of Exparel:

• Pain is reduced for three days which makes recovering from surgery more comfortable and easier for the patient.
• Patients no longer have the inconvenience of carrying around a pain-pump after surgery.
• During the 72 hours, pain medication is severely reduced or not needed at all.
• Without narcotics, patients are mentally alert and awake without pain.
• Patients prone to narcotic dependence can have surgery without risking becoming dependent.
• Patients, who experience nausea with narcotics, have another option that they may tolerate.
• Because Exparel is injected in the last phase of the surgery, a lower amount of anesthesia is needed during that phase which allows patients to wake up easier after the procedure.
• After 72 hours, there is a 45% decrease in patient use of pain medications (according to a clinical study by Exparel's manufacturer, Pacira Pharmaceuticals.)

Non-Narcotic options should always be considered for:

• Elderly patients
• Obese patients
• Sleep apnea patients
• Patients with a history of substance abuse

Price Range: $250.00 per vial. (One vial is usually sufficient for an abdominoplasty. More vials may be required for larger surgeries or multiple procedures.)

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