Is Exparel Really Effective for 72 Hours or is It Just Snake Oil?

I'm curious if Exparel is really as good as the manufacturer claims. Has anyone had extensive experience using this drug? Has your opinion changed for the better or worse over time?

Doctor Answers 10

Is Exparel Really Effective for 72 Hours or is It Just Snake Oil?

I use Exparel on most TT's, and find it quite helpful in reducing pain med needs for the first three days. All the best. 


It is great. I use it all the time. It gives pain relief for 3 days in the appropriate procedures. 

William B. Rosenblatt, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Is Exparel Really Effective for 72 Hours or is it just a Scam?

Tummy tucks have dramatically changed for the better over the past few years. The two reasons that tummy tucks have become easier for patients are one Exparel (a long acting local anesthetic) and the no drain technique called progressive tension sutures. The combination of these to advance have made the recover for patients much easier as they have less pain and it is easier for them to move around after surgery.

The exparel in my patients has created an enhanced experience for several reasons. One I typically do not use any drains with my tummy tuck so with the use of the exparel I don’t have any standard drainage tubes or the tubes connected to the pain pumps for the patients to deal with after surgery. The second reason is that with exparel is injected at the time of surgery, so there is no concern of the pain pump tubing be removed prematurely, kinking or having any type of problems. Thirdly and most importantly the exparel can be injected directly to the areas where you plastic surgeon wants it. It can be injected along the muscles that are tightened, any areas that liposuction was performed and along your incision.

In the past I have used pain pumps, exparel and no pain management system other than pain pills. No question that exparel makes a significant difference in the post-operative pain of my patients. I had a recent patient that only took one pain pill after her tummy tuck surgery the first day after surgery, five years ago that would have ben unheard of after an abdominoplasty. I feel so strongly about the exparel that in my practice it is built into the cost. I believe that controlling patients’ pain these first couple days decreases their overall post-operative pain. Which in turn leads to patients being able to be more active after their surgery.

The combination of the exparel and no drain technique has made a dramatic difference in the recovery of patients after their tummy tuck.

Please discuss your tummy tuck options with your board certified plastic surgeon.

Is Exparel really effective f or 72 hours?

Hello! Thank you for your question! Exparel is an excellent form of delivery of a local anesthetic, Marcaine. It is delivered within a liposomes form, which is slowly released over a 72 hour period. The injectable form lasts approximately 6 hours. It has significantly reduced postoperative pain as well as the need for postoperative narcotics following surgical procedures. Sometimes a small additional fee is required for it's use, but it's benefits have been great. The pain pumps are excellent as well as they continuously drip the anesthetic within the pocket.

Typically, Exparel is either injected into the surrounding soft tissue/underlying muscle layer or just simply released into the pocket itself. If injected between the ribs, there certainly is a theoretical, and higher, risk of puncturing of the lung. the former methods are more common. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Is Exparel Really Effective for 72 Hours or is It Just Snake Oil?

Dear miss33,

Thank you for your post.  This medication can give good pain relief for 2-3 days, which is when the pain is the worst.  Most patients take none or very little narcotics and feel much better.

Best wishes,

Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews


Exparel is a long acting local anaesthetic that is in a slow release form and helps with pain relief for the about the first three days.


Stephen Salerno

Is Exparel really as effective as advertised?

Exparel is the new long-acting numbing medicine that has been around for about a year. We have extensive experience using it on breast augmentations and tummy tucks. We can say that it has significantly decreased post operative pain in our patients and has lasted about 2-3 days in most of them. On some breast augmentations the patients state that they only required 1-2 doses of oral pain medicine on the night after surgery and perhaps the same amout for the next day or two. Then they went to Tylenol. We highly recommend the use of Exparel.

James Motlagh, MD
Tyler Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Exparel effectiveness

Yes, Exparel is effective for 72 hours and has been used in many different procedures, allowing a decreased need for narcotic analgesics.  It is comprised of a long acting local anesthetic, Bupivacaine, in a liposomal bubble that is released slowly.  I have been quite pleased with the results so far, and will continue to recommend it to my patients in the future.

Daniel J. Pyo, MD
Morristown Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Use of Exparel

Exparel is Marcaine. This is a long acting anesthetic that many of us (plastic surgeons) use frequently, particularly with tummy tucks to reduce post-operative pain.

David Cangello, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Is Exparel Really Effective for 72 Hours of Pain Reduction

Yes, Exparel, a long lasting local anesthetic, has been shown to work for about 3 days after surgery. It may be useful for tummy tucks. 

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.