Amid a nationwide opioid epidemic, physicians are using a unique approach to avoid prescribing narcotics to their patients.
Dr. Mary Gingrass, a local plastic surgeon, is one of three doctors in the Mid-State to provide Exparel, a long-lasting anesthetic that numbs a certain part of the body.
It helps block the impulses that would make someone feel pain. Exparel is becoming popular because it is opioid-free.
"I have people come in who now are very open about the fact that they've had trouble with opioids and addiction issues or their family has been touched with addiction issues, and there are people afraid of narcotics now," said Gingrass.
Gingrass typically applies Exparel towards the beginning of the procedure because it takes effect slowly and lasts for a few days.
While it does not apply to all surgeries and different types of pain, Gingrass described Exparel as another tool in the toolbox as new state laws kick in to reduce the number of prescriptions.
Many opioid addictions stem from a simple prescription of an opioid.
"As doctors, right now we all feel some responsibility for the opioid crisis, and we are all trying very hard to do everything we can to decrease the amount of opioids we are prescribing. We've known that opioids have some addictive potential, but I don't think anybody realized how badly it would get out of hand," said Gingrass.
The company said there has been a 78 percent reduction in overall opioid consumption and a 13.6 percent in cumulative pain scores.