Botox may be used to minimize post-operative pain for breast reconstruction patients, according to plastic surgeon Allen Gabriel M.D., who presented about the topic at the recent International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Congress.
The doctor conducted a 30-patient clinical trial for this off-label application, demonstrating that botulinum toxin type A can address post-operative pain.
Breast reconstruction often involves the positioning of a temporary expander implant between layers of the chest muscle, which is then filled with water to create a pocket where a permanent implant will reside. Pain can result from muscle contractions and spasms in response to the tissue expansion.
Dr. Gabriel, along with his collaborator Dr. G. Patrick Maxwell, theorized that Botox injections could offer relief by temporarily paralyzing the muscle so that fewer spasms occur, thereby reducing pain and discomfort.
They designed a clinical trial with 30 breast cancer patients, who all planned a mastectomy and subsequent silicone implant breast reconstruction. They were divided into 2 groups: one received Botox injections in the chest muscle and the other received injections of saline solution as a placebo.
After reconstructive surgery, the women who received the Botox injections were reportedly more comfortable than those who received placebo. The doctors measured patient responses 3 times during and after the procedure, noting that during days 7 to 45 of the recovery period, those that received Botox injections used significantly fewer doses of narcotics and muscle relaxants.