Surgeons Use Botox® to Manage Pain After Breast Reconstruction

Botox® may be useful for managing post-operative pain after breast reconstruction surgery, according to plastic surgeon Allen Gabriel M.D., who discussed the technique at a recent meeting of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

The doctor conducted a 30-patient clinical trial for this off-label application, demonstrating that botulinum toxin type A can address post-operative pain for patients of breast reconstruction.  A temporary tissue expander is often used during breast reconstruction, which is placed between layers of the chest muscle and filled with water to create a pocket for the breast implant. Pain can result from muscle contractions and spasms in response to the gradual tissue expansion.

Dr. Gabriel, along with his collaborator Dr. G. Patrick Maxwell, theorized that Botox injections could offer relief by temporarily paralyzing the muscle so that fewer spasms occur, thereby reducing pain and discomfort.  The doctors designed a clinical trial with 30 breast cancer patients who all planned a mastectomy and subsequent silicone implant breast reconstruction.  They were divided into 2 groups: one received Botox injections in the chest muscle and the other received injections of saline solution as a placebo.

After reconstructive surgery, the women who received the Botox injections were reportedly more comfortable than those who received placebo. The doctors measured patient responses 3 times during and after the procedure, noting that during days 7 to 45 of the recovery period, those that received Botox injections used significantly fewer doses of narcotics and muscle relaxants.

You can find more information about this topic on Medscape.

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