November 29, 2004

Botox Eases Pain From Breast Surgery

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Pain from breast surgery can be reduced by injections of Botox, a new study by University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences researchers.

The botulinum toxin, used mainly for to combat wrinkles, has been found in the study to alleviate pain that follows breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy, the study found.

Botox acts on muscles and is not a pain reliever. In its cosmetic use, Botox relaxes facial muscles to diminish wrinkles. When used in breast reconstruction, the injection relaxes chest muscles to diminish pain, said Dr. Julio Hochberg, professor of surgery in the plastic surgery division at UAMS and one of the study's authors.

"It really diminished markedly patients' need (for) morphine," he said. "The time in the hospital is much shorter." He said he plans to use Botox regularly in future breast reconstruction surgery.

Researchers compared pain levels of 30 women who received Botox and how much pain was felt by 26 women who did not receive the injections. The study concluded that who received the injections used 89 percent less morphine in the first 24 hours after surgery. They stayed one day less in the hospital.

Hochberg said the study drew no funding from the manufacturer of Botox and that the company did not know the study was taking place. He said regular payments by the patients covered the cost of the study, and that insurance companies have not complained about being billed for the Botox injections.

A similar study by Hochberg's group appeared in the Annals of Surgery in October.

The pain that follows surgery can last for weeks as a woman's chest muscles adapt to holding an implant. Some of the pain can be from the skin. Hochberg said that the muscles can spasm, and those spasms are calmed by the Botox.

He said the Botox effects last about three months after the injections are given at surgery.


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