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When Are Pain Pumps Useful Following Plastic Surgery?

About ten years ago plastic surgery had a nice little advance- the advent of the disposable pain pump. Breakthroughs in medicine are far fewer than advertising copy would have you believe, but this one is real. Unfortunately some practices use them like a marketing ploy in all cases and really don’t spend the time to make them work well or minimize their risk. Others don’t see the benefit and don’t use them at all.

Pain pumps are quite useful in some cases when used correctly. Plastic surgery is a technical specialty and some surgeons are more adept at making things work than others. There are risks with them and cases in which the benefit is harder to measure.

How Does a Pain Pump Work?

These pain pumps are disposable devices that pump a local anesthetic into areas of a wound at which pain is best minimized. The anesthetic numbs the painful area greatly diminishing pain produced there. It is like cutting the flow of air to a fire. The fire burns less well or stops burning entirely. This amounts to less pain…sometimes a lot less.

Is There Any Risk With a Pain Pump?

Of course there is. By pumping too much fluid into the wound for too long, the wound can be delayed in closure or by the formation of a fluid pocket called seroma. These can be big issues in plastic surgery. So your doctor needs to regulate both the use time and the volume of fluid pumped into the wound. This risk can be made minimal by proper management.

In What Kinds Of Surgery is a Pain Pump Useful?

I use them in Tummy Tuck surgery mainly for the first 4-6 days at low volume. In these cases they greatly decrease pain making oral narcotics use much less necessary. When I did my wife’s tummy tuck, you better believe I used one of these babies.

*This blog post was originally published at Truth in Cosmetic Surgery*


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