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What is a Pain Pump?

   Pain Pumps are relatively new to cosmetic surgery, becoming widely used in the past 3 or 4 years. There are different brands of pumps but the most well known is the On-Q® Pain Buster® Pump. In Plastic Surgery, pain pumps are typically used for Mini-Tummy Tucks and Full Tummy Tucks but can also be used for Breast Augmentations, Breast Reductions, Breast Reconstructions, Body Lifts, and Thigh Lifts. The pump stays on the outside and you carry it in a fanny pack. It consists of a reservoir about the size of a tennis ball. This holds some volume of anesthetic, typically Marcaine. From the pump comes one or two small catheters. The catheters are about the size of an IV. The catheters are threaded through the skin and laid in the surgical site. They are attached at the entrance site into the skin with just a couple of steri-strips. The pump is attached and it starts to do its’ thing. The reservoir is built such that is squeezes out a measured number of cc’s of the medicine each hour. Typically there is enough Marcaine to last for 3 days. So, for three days after surgery there is a steady stream of a novacaine like drug numbing the sore area. When the pump is empty, you just pull the catheters out and throw it all away. The sites can be covered with a band-aid. It doesn’t hurt when it is removed. After the pump is empty, patients fear a spike in their pain. This doesn’t really occur because you will still have traditional pain pills and you are now about 72 hours out from surgery so things are naturally less tender. Why have one, because they do add a little cost to your surgery? Well, besides the obvious, they make your surgery safer. The best defense against some problems like fever, pneumonia, and blood clots is early mobility. Less discomfort means earlier, easier mobility. So they improve your safety and comfort.

Lee Corbett, MD 


All posts on this blog are authored by Louisville , Kentucky plastic surgeon Dr. Lee Corbett. Dr. Corbett specializes in cosmetic plastic surgery of the body.

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