A pain pump is a simple device that is used to deliver pain medication to a surgical site. The medication is delivered through a very narrow tube that the surgeon has placed in the area during surgery. The tube or catheter, exits from the site and is attached to the pump portion of the device that is external.
The pain medicine reservoir portion of the pump is filled with a numbing medicine. The pump slowly delivers the medicine into the catheter to the site for the first few days post-op.
The pain pump can be set to automatically deliver the numbing medication or it can be controlled by the patient. This gives a slow, very consistent delivery of medication straight to the surgical site. This is an advantage of this type of pain management because it works only on the surgical site and has no effects on other parts of the body. Some people are sensitive to pain medication and suffer from intestinal distress or drowsiness from pain medication.
Narcotic pain medications that are taken orally have the disadvantage of needing time for pain relief to take effect. Recovery without the global effect of nausea, constipation or sleepiness can be more pleasant and less traumatic.
Surgeons often use pain pumps for patients who are very motivated to get back to work quickly or only have a limited time window for recovery. The use of the pump ensures these patients that they won't have much pain and will be as comfortable as possible during recovery. Many people work from home or are self-employed and can manage to work for a few hours a day the day after surgery with a pain pump.
Prior to the invention of pain pumps, patients would require IV pain medicine or oral pain pills every 4 to 6 hours. A patient with a pain pump will require fewer narcotic pain pills for a much shorter duration.
The removal of the pain pump is very simple and depending on the pump and the type of surgery you have had, some patients can remove it themselves. You surgeon may tell you that they will remove it for you in the office at a post-op visit. This is a very quick, painless procedure to remove the device.
Plastic surgeons use a pain pump for different types of breast surgery, tummy tucks and other operations where a surgical pocket is created. Your plastic surgeon can explain how pain pumps can help your recovery from surgery.