Plastic Surgeons: The call is for less opioids in the surgical arena. Furthermore, they are very aware of the opioid problem in America today. They know that the “surgical setting exposes more than 40 million patients annually to excess risk and potential addiction from opioids postoperatively.”
Furthermore, facts published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons state:
- “As many as 6.5% of these patients (2.6M patients) that take opioids to manage pain after surgery may become persistent opioid users”
- Of these patients, it is frightening to note that up to 670,000 will develop Opioid Use Disorder (DUD) or addiction.
- Last year the New England Journal of Medicine set a trend by calling the opioid epidemic, “a flood of opioids, a rising tide of death.”
- And the CDC (Center for Disease Control) states that “post-operative prescriptions put over a billion left-over opioids into medicine cabinets every year.”
Plastic Surgeons: Unified in Effort to Minimize Opioid Addiction
If you have a surgical procedure for cosmetic or therapeutic reasons, you will feel a certain amount of discomfort or pain. That is a certainty.
Now, opioid painkillers like Percocet, Vicodin, Norco, and Tylenol with codeine have been standard for generations in the management of post-operative pain.
A New Way of Thinking about Opioids
However, “we are now in the midst of the opioid epidemic.” This means the United States consumes approximately 2/3 of the world’s opioid medications. Since their patients are becoming more aware of the effects of opioids, plastic surgeons have shifted to more “responsible use” of prescriptions.
Plastic Surgeons Give Patients Options
However, we do not want you to avoid surgery because you fear addiction. At Altiora, we take very important steps to minimize the risk of such dangers. Part of our procedure is to avoid over-prescribing postoperative opioid medications.
Plastic Surgeons Explain: How To Avoid Opioids After Plastic Surgery:
Many plastic surgeons are prescribing fewer pills than in previous times.
- Amount of Pills: For example, after breast augmentation perhaps he or she will prescribe only 10 pills instead of the old standard dose of 30. Yes, 30-60 Vicodin tablets pills were the common practice in the past.
- Some plastic surgeons have discovered the wisdom pre-medicating patients with a “long-acting non-opioid pain reliever.” This is administered the day before surgery and then continued for “7-10 days.”
- Breast and body surgery patients are discovering the “longer-acting local anesthetics such as Bupivacaine or Exparel,” really help. They alleviate immediate pain. Therefore they reduce the number of opioid medications.
In Praise of Bupivacaine or Exparel
The beauty of Bupivacaine-based local anesthetics is that they can lessen the unpleasant side effects of opioid medications. Did you know opioids cause constipation, urinary retention, and nausea?
Smart plastic surgeons have combined the long-acting Bupivacaine-based local anesthetics with preoperative non-narcotic pain medications and muscle relaxants. Thus they have been able to decrease the narcotic pain medication after surgery.
How likely is it that I will become addicted to opioids after surgery?
In spite of the current opioid epidemic, plastic surgery patients run very little risk of becoming chronic opioid users. This assumes proper prescribing, no history of substance abuse, and a defined reason for needing the medication.
The key is good communication with your plastic surgery team.
Keep No Secrets from your Plastic Surgeons
That being said, it is critical that you confide such secrets as a family history of alcohol or drug abuse. This will help your doctor make the best prescription decisions for your post-operative needs.
If you have concerns about opioid addiction or the potential for misuse, we suggest you discuss them with our own Dr. Cicilioni during your consultation.
After Surgery: Don’t Play Tough, Bite your Lip or Grit Your Teeth against Pain
In view of this topic, it is crucial that you understand that if you are enduring uncontrolled pain after surgery, we need to know. You see there are early complications that ignite disproportionate pain. For example, hematomas from blood collections can cause pain. This type of pain may be out of proportion to the nature of the procedure.
Terrific Take-Aways on Plastic Surgery and Opioids
Taking opioids after surgery continues to have a place in the recovery process. However, we believe “their use does need to be done with forethought and judicious prescribing.”
Your Preoperative Education:
How do I talk to my surgeon about medications during recovery? Plastic surgeons realize that part of the preoperative process is to educate you about your medications. Here at Altiora, we like to define the role of each of your drugs in the recovery process.
When Will The Pain Be Most Intense?
You might guess your worst pain will be in the first 2 days after surgery. So, that is when opioids can do their job if needed.
Then your doctor will taper them off and stop them. But have no fear because other medicines such as Valium, Celebrex, Meloxicam, Ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen can adequately substitute. Then, they are phased in as you heal from surgery and take back the normal routine of your life.
“ASPS member surgeons are dedicated to being part of the solution when it comes to the opioid epidemic. So, they are happy to speak with you to develop the best and safest recovery plan that is suited to your individual needs.”
Thank you for reading our blog. And we wish you the best of luck with your plastic surgery needs.