Updated September 2018
If painkillers, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammatories sound like a cocktail you'd rather not take, then your surgeon may insert a portable pain pump to help ease you through the pain and discomfort during the first 72 hours of breast augmentation recovery.
There will be side effects as with traditional pain-management methods, so investigate this option then talk to your board-certified surgeon to see if it works for you.
Pain pump side effects after breast augmentation
While pain pumps can do a lot to stem pain during breast augmentation recovery, there are potential side effects that can occur due to the medication used, including:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in ears
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Numbness & tingling around the incision site
If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should contact your doctor:
- Increase in pain
- Skin rash or hives
- Redness, swelling, pain, or discharge at the catheter site
- Anxiousness, restlessness, or extreme drowsiness
When and why pain pumps are used in breast augmentation recovery
Usually, pain is managed with narcotic painkillers, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflammatories, but despite these methods, 30-80 percent of patients still complain of moderate to severe pain during the early stage of breast augmentation recovery. They may also experience constipation, urinary retention, vomiting, nausea, and pruritis.
Some plastic surgeons prefer to use pain-management pumps and limit the use of these traditional methods as pain pumps have been shown to significantly decrease postoperative pain, reduce narcotic use, and curb nausea and vomiting.
What is a post-breast augmentation pain pump?
A pain pump is a non-electrical device designed to provide continuous pain relief in the first days of breast augmentation recovery. Using a small, high-tech balloon that contains pain-numbing medication (local anesthetic), the device delivers the anesthetic through a catheter tube that has been placed in the incision site. With only the surgical site is affected by the medication, the rest of your body will maintain control and normal sensation.
If a pain pump is used, it will be placed at the end of your surgery and you will be sent with instructions on how to use the device at home. Pain pumps are portable, they can travel with you, and can be used at all times except when bathing or showering. On the third day, you will return to your surgeon's office to have it removed. At this point, pain should be tolerable and only an over-the-counter pain controller like Tylenol is needed.
Examples of pain pumps used during breast augmentation recovery
There are several pain pumps available, including Stryker PainPump 2, Accufuser disposable silicone balloon infuser, and the On-Q PainBuster. They can be used in both implant placement scenarios—over the muscle and under the muscle.
Below are photos of a subject using the Stryker pain pump.
The photo below shows the catheter, which is used to deliver medication from the pain pump to the surgical site.
A different subject using the On-Q pain pump.
Want to know more about pain pumps after breast augmentation?
To learn more about pain pumps, drop your questions or concerns in our "Ask a Surgeon" Q&A forum. Our diverse group of board-certified plastic surgeons will answer them, giving you more insight into how they are used and what to expect.
Or, if you wish to hear from women who had them post-breast augmentation, dive into the pain pumps thread in our breast augmentation recovery forum.
Smaili T. (2016). Breast implants recovery stages and the issue of pain. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/breast-implants-recovery-stages-and-the-issue-of-pain
Chandran G, Lalonde D. (2010). A review of pain pumps in plastic surgery. Can J Plast Surg. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851453/
Stanley S, Hoppe I, Ciminello F. (2012). Pain Control Following Breast Augmentation: A Qualitative Systematic Review. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/asj/article/32/8/964/318316