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Revolutionary Painkiller Is Able to Halt Pain for Up to Three Days

Update Date: Apr 22, 2013 02:58 PM EDT
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Surgery is scary for many people, and part of the fear lies in the anesthesia  process. Even for elective procedures, like plastic surgery and wisdom teeth removal, doctors administer anesthesia during the surgery and opiates for the recovery. Unfortunately, for many, opiates are as uncomfortable as the recovery period for the procedure itself, causing side effects like drowsiness, a hazy mental state, dry mouth, itching and rashes. One study found that 55 percent of patients needed to take medication in order to control the side effects of the opiates, and an overwhelming majority - as many as 75 percent - found their pain medication to be unhelpful, experiencing inadequate pain relief and decreased mobility.

According to the Daily Mail, a new treatment called Exparel may eliminate the need for opiates after surgery completely. The drug is administered through a series of injections over the course of the procedure. Because the treatment's active ingredient, bupivacaine, is suspended in a matrix that slows its absorption into the body, the effects of the drug remain in the body for up to 72 hours, or three days.

The painkiller was tested using a study conducted by plastic surgeon Dr. Stephan Finical. It was administered during a number of elective procedures, including breast augmentations and breast reductions. After the procedure, most of the patients reported that they suffered from less pain, were satisfied with pain control and used fewer opiates.

A previous study on the treatment found that a third of patients who were given the drug needed no or few opiates during their recovery period.

"When considering an elective procedure, post-surgical pain ranks high on the list of patient concerns, and adequate pain management during the first few days after surgery - when pain is at its worst - is crucial to a patient's overall satisfaction with the surgeon and the procedure," Dr. Finical said.

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