Pain in the postoperative body contouring patient has traditionally been managed with narcotic medication. In an effort to minimize side effects and prevent addiction, plastic surgeons are searching for novel ways to provide adequate analgesia, one of which is nerve blocks. This study was conducted with a meta-analysis that evaluates the efficacy of these blocks for patients who undergo breast surgery.
A search of the PubMed/MEDLINE database for articles including the terms “postoperative analgesia” OR “postoperative pain management” AND “in plastic surgery” OR “in cosmetic surgery” OR “in elective surgery” in February 2019 generated five studies on elective breast augmentation and reduction mammoplasty that reported pain scores and quantities of opioids consumed. Independent samples t-tests, one-way analysis of variance, and a random effects model were implemented for evaluation.
A total of 317 patients were identified as having undergone body contouring of the breast, about half of which received a nerve block. Pain scores on a 1-10 scale and opioid dose-equivalents were calculated. Those who were blocked had an average score of 2.40 compared to 3.64 for those who did not (P<0.001), and required an average of 5.20 less narcotic doses (P<0.001). Pain relief following subpectoral augmentation was best achieved with type-II blocks as opposed to type-I and type-II with serratus plane (P<0.001).
The opioid epidemic has extended to all surgical specialties. Implementation of a nerve block seems to be an efficacious and cost-effective mechanism to not only help with postoperative pain, but also lower the need for narcotics, especially in subpectoral augmentation.