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Question 7 - Surgery and Pain Medication

From: Mike C..

I had UPPP surgery four days ago. I am still having intense pain. I've complained to my surgeon about the need for stronger pain killers but he refuses. Is there any medical reason to put a patient through so much pain when really good pain killers are out there?

Answer Provided by Dr. Kasey Li
July 5, 2007

The variables associated with pain level from any surgery are related to the surgical technique as well as the pain threshold of the patient. In general, the most painful technique is involved the use of Bovie electrosurgical instrument. Recent advance with the use of radiofrequency (Arthrocare) is associated with less pain.

The reason that your surgeon is concerned with the use of very strong pain medications is related to the fear of respiration depression from these narcotics in conjunction with swelling of the airway after surgery as well as the presence of sleep apnea leading to airway obstruction. I usually tell my patients to expect moderate to significant pain for the first 3-5 days which require pain meds every 4 hours. Majority of the patients will require pain medications for approximately 7-10 days, but not every four hours.

Good luck

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