How To Manage Post-Operative Pain and Minimize Opioid Use During Plastic Surgery Recovery

A woman looking at medicine and holding a glass of water (model)

Planning to undergo plastic surgery to improve your aesthetic concerns can be a challenging time. You have so many serious decisions to make as well as prepare for post-surgery recovery. If you are anxious about pain management and the aftereffects of opioid use, you are not alone. Patients preparing for cosmetic surgery procedures often have questions about the use of opioids for pain management and the risk of dependence.

Our team wants you to have a safe and comfortable recovery period with the proper use of opioids, non-opioids, or other methods. This post discusses ways to safely manage your discomfort with both options.

What Are Some Common Opioids Used To Manage Discomfort After Surgery?

Some common opioids you may be prescribed after plastic surgery are oxycodone, hydrocodone, or codeine. These are usually perfectly safe options to manage short-term discomfort, but you should understand all the risks involved.

What Are Some Non-Opioid Options To Manage Post-op Discomfort?

You should not hesitate to discuss the following effective non-opioid options with Dr. Wright.

Local Anesthetics

Discuss with Dr. Wright if local anesthetics such as bupivacaine and lidocaine are right for you. These local anesthetics can help with discomfort by causing short-term loss of sensation at the surgery site. An extended-release analgesic, EXPAREL®, is an option many patients choose to pay for. It’s a longer-acting form of bupivacaine that is injected during surgery to provide pain relief for up to 3 days. You can learn more about EXPAREL and other analgesics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

You can use NSAIDs such as Advil®, Motrin IB®, Aleve®, Celebrex®, and more. These medications decrease the inflammation in your body that causes discomfort. Just make sure you are following the dosage listed on the medication.

Other Non-Opioid Pain Relievers

Many patients find that non-opioid pain relievers such as Extra Strength Tylenol® and gabapentin manage discomfort after plastic surgery. While you may not get the same relief as with opioids, these medications can effectively ease postoperative discomfort.

Dr. Wright typically advises patients to use a combination of Celebrex, Tylenol, and gabapentin to relieve post-surgical pain without opioids. When the surgery involves significant muscle work, however, patients will likely need an opioid for pain relief.

Using Opioids Safely and Responsibly After Plastic Surgery

If opioids are necessary, you should feel confident in using them. Your plastic surgeon will advise you on how to use opioids to manage discomfort without the risk of dependence or the potential for misuse.

Below are steps you can take to use these powerful prescription painkillers safely and without any negative repercussions.

  • Request the lowest possible dose of medication.
  • Discuss current medications and supplements you are taking with your plastic surgeon.
  • Disclose any alcohol use.
  • Understand that opioids should be used only for short-term discomfort.
  • Disclose any lifestyle factors that might put you at higher risk for dependence.
  • Transition to non-opioid pain relievers as soon as your pain level allows.

Our team at Wright Plastic Surgery understands that choosing to undergo cosmetic surgery can be challenging, and we want to make the journey as smooth as possible. We can discuss the recovery process and all available options for pain management during your consultation. If you are ready to take this journey, request a consultation or call us at (501) 575-0088 to schedule an appointment.

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