Botox could be assuming a new role as a pain reliever

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Botox, a household name for wrinkle reduction, could be assuming a new role as a pain reliever.

In a study presented today at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2004 conference in Philadelphia, women injected with Botox in the pectoral muscles following the surgical removal of their breast experienced significantly less pain and shorter hospital stays.

"As surgeons, our top priorities are the safety and comfort of our patients," said Julio Hochberg, MD, ASPS member and co-author of the study. "We are always searching for ways to decrease pain for breast reconstruction patients and found that using Botox after surgery significantly decreased the pain and discomfort they experienced."

The study examined women who had mastectomies, followed by breast reconstruction with tissue expanders. The tissue expanders, balloon like devices, were placed beneath the pectoral muscle and slowly inflated to allow time for the tissue to stretch and ultimately accommodate a breast implant.

Unfortunately, tissue expansion causes muscle spasms and additional pain. By injecting the muscles with Botox, the spasms, pain, and discomfort significantly decreased.

In this study, Dr. Hochberg found patients who received Botox injections used 89 percent less morphine in the first 24 hours after surgery, had their hospital stay reduced by one day, and required three fewer physician visits than the control group to achieve the targeted tissue expansion before placing the breast implant.

"Many general surgeons could clearly see the relief my patients received when I administered Botox to the affected muscles," said Dr. Hochberg. "Now, many of these surgeons are using the injectable for their own patients to help manage pain after certain surgeries of the chest and abdomen."

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