The plastic surgeons at St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery have been using pain pumps in certain types of surgical procedures for almost 8 years to provide our patients with optimal pain management during their recovery after surgery. We started doing so after reading studies in the orthopedic medical literature that demonstrated that patients who had undergone hip replacement operations and similar procedures recovered faster and with less pain when pain pumps filled with local anesthetics were used to supplement the normal pain management guidelines. There was no evidence of increased complications including infections in patients with pain pumps when compared with those without the pumps. Plastic surgeons, you should know, are very innovative but we also recognize a good thing when we see it and so the plastic surgeons at St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery started using pain pumps including on our breast augmentation patients and our abdominoplasty-(tummy tuck) patients.
Recently, in the May/June issue of Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Peter T. Pacik, M.D. et al published a very large study looking at using pain pumps in breast augmentation patients. In their series, they placed pain pumps in 644 consecutive breast augmentation patients. Patients were given surveys to fill out after their procedures recording their pain response at specific intervals. There was one implant infection in the series-(1 out of 1288 implant sites)-which is well within the normal rate for this type of procedure. There was also were some isolated reports of arm and finger numbness in some patients which resolved after the pain pumps were discontinued. This is also something we have noted in our series and it should also be noted that in our patients, their numbness also resolved with removal of their pain pumps. 89% of the patients in Pacik’s study noted improvement with their pain management and felt the pain pumps helped their recovery.
Rumors that pain pumps are not safe, dangerous, and don’t work are not supported in this very large study and also in our clinical experience at St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery. Sometimes it is nice to read a study that supports what you have been doing for years knowing it to be the right thing to do for your patients.
Herluf Lund MD