Is Exparel Worth the Extra $300 for my Breast Augmentation?

I am interested in getting the Exparel injection during my BA, and was wondering if it is worth it. I do not like pain meds such as Vicodin that makes me feel high & foggy, so I would like to avoid taking them as much as possible. I much rather take high doses of ibuprofen, but not sure if that will be allowed after surgery. Will Exparel make my breasts numb for 72 hrs? If so, the concern I have with that is that I may hurt myself or rip my sutures and not even know it.

Doctor Answers 8

Is Exparel Worth the Extra $300 for my Breast Augmentation?

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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!

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Exparel for Post Operative Releif in Breast Augmentation

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Exparel is  relatively new  potentially very valuable pain reliever for post op recovery .  The local anesthetic Bupivicaine is combined in a time release capsule so that it can be effective for several days,  It decreases need for narcotic use and does not make you sleepy. The only downside to its use is its significant cost.  I use a lot of local anesthetic at the time of breast augmentation to cut down on discomfort.  For those very fearful of pain I use a "pain pump" with marcaine, a similar drug.  This also adds cost to the procedure, so is a barrier for some.  Most women do just fine with tolerating the pain, so it really is not necessary for the majority.

Mary Lee Peters, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 117 reviews

Exparel is worth the extra cost for most breast augmentation patients

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Exparel is a long lasting numbing agent that can be injected during surgery that can significantly reduce postoperative pain and in some patients make the procedure almost pain free. 

You still have to be smart about your postoperative activities but I have not had anyone tear sutures or cause a problem because they were too numb.

Christopher J. Ewart, MD
Augusta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Exparel is a great option if you are extremely concerned about postop pain.

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Patients who are really concerned about postoperative pain management and who need to recover as quickly as possible are great candidates for Exparel.  The small extra expense has certainly been worth it for them!

I'm also broadening my use of Exparel to people who are sensitive to pain medication, have nausea with these meds, and those who we know will have a difficult time controlling their discomfort (patients on chronic pain medication).

You do not need to be afraid that your breasts will be so anesthetized that you will do damage without knowing it.  In fact, I'd venture a guess that you'd be likely to unknowingly hurt yourself if you are groggy from the oral pain medication.

Hope that helps.

Best of luck.

Exparel for Breast Augmentation

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Ibuprofen is usually not allowed as it increases your changes of excessive bruising and bleeding.
Exparel is extremely safe when used as directed. As it is injected through a small guage needle mostly under direct vision the complications are rare and less than the breast augmentation itself. See the below link for more information. In my experience it is more effective than a pain pump (plus you don't have tubes hanging out of you that have to be removed).  I have not had any problems with patients hurting themselves or "ripping sutures" on this medication

Limited scientific data concerning Exparel for breast augmentation.

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I haven't seen anything in the literature about the use of this drug specifically in breast augmentation. I don't see much of a downside to it but I wonder if it will be worth $300.

Is Exparel Worth the Extra $300 for my Breast Augmentation?

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Exparel should provide up to three days of pain relief after surgery. Obviously it is more expensive than pain pills, but only you can decide if that offeres $300 in value. It is quite unlikely that you chances of injury are higher. 

All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Exparel in breast surgery

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The company that makes Exparel has been trying to convince plastic surgeons to use this on their patients.  Personally, I have never used it and don't think it's worth the cost or if it even works.  You can't use ibuprofen because of the risk of bleeding.  There are many different meds for post op pain relief and I am sure your surgeon and anesthesiologist can figure out something that will work for you.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego 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.