A TAP block is a post-abdominal surgery pain relief method. It is a type of analgesic — which is essential to reducing pain after surgery to maximize patient comfort.
What Are TAP Blocks?
A TAP block is a peripheral nerve block that aims to relieve somatic pain in the abdominal region following abdominoplasty or a cesarean section (“c-section”), for example.
Somatic pain is a specific type of pain that is felt within the skin, muscle, joints, bones, or ligaments. As a tummy tuck surgery results in surgical tissue trauma within the abdomen, the patient may experience significant pain after the procedure — unless the appropriate post-surgical pain relief methods are used.
This is a fascial plane that lies between the deepest abdominal muscle (known as the transversus abdominis) and the sheath that surrounds the uppermost ab muscles, also known as the rectus abdominis muscle (colloquially known as the “6-pack abs” in layman’s terms). The TAP blockade anesthetizes certain nerves within this area for local pain relief.
At Bengtson Center for Aesthetics, the cornerstone of our mission is providing optimal care so patients can have the best experience possible. Impressing patients with the high level of care they deserve continues even after surgery. Our surgeons want each patient to have a smooth recovery experience after plastic surgery.
For our patients, pain reduction is central to a comfortable recovery. With the TAP block shot, our tummy tuck patients experience far less pain after abdominoplasty — starting from the moment they wake from surgery. Local pain reduction continues for up to 24 hours.
Using peripheral nerve blocks such as the TAP blockade shot means patients enjoy long lasting pain relief after tummy tuck surgery without needing to rely as much on drugs such as oral prescription painkillers or IV opioid aesthetics. Local pain relief with a TAP block provides direct pain reduction to the surgical site without resorting to excessive use of pain-killing drugs. There is no addictive potential with local analgesics such as the TAP block injection.
At the end of the tummy tuck surgery, the surgeon inserts a needle containing local anesthetic into the skin above the uppermost abdominal muscles. The injection is placed close to the middle of the patient’s abdomen. The anesthetic is then spread in the fascia between the superficial muscle sheath and the transversus abdominis muscle. Now the ultrasound-guided tap block is complete and will begin to take effect in about 20 minutes.
Pain relief for a single TAP block shot is expected to last for 12 to 24 hours. The first 24 hours after surgery are when patients tend to experience the most pain.
With a TAP block, the patient has dramatic localized pain reduction to make the first-day post-op much more comfortable. Local anesthetic reduces significant pain to a feeling of mild to moderate discomfort. Thanks to the TAP block, our tummy tuck patients frequently report that the first-day post-op is not nearly as painful as expected. In most cases, a patient can return home from the hospital the same day as the tummy tuck procedure with greatly reduced pain after surgery. At Bengtson Center for Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery, our surgeons are committed to ensuring our patients not only look great after surgery but also have maximum comfort during the recovery period. The first 24 hours are critical, so we have chosen the TAP block as part of our tummy tuck pain relief protocol.
A TAP block takes about 20 minutes to reach the full analgesic effect. It is usually done before the patient wakes from surgery. This gives time for the TAP block to start working so that the patient wakes in our comfortable recovery room with local pain relief already in place. This allows the patient to feel significantly more comfortable right after surgery. Tab block pain relief is long lasting, providing up to 24 hours of continuous pain reduction.
The TAP block is painless because it is performed while the patient is still safely under general anesthesia. The injection is not felt by the patient at all. Your surgeon injects the local anesthetic at least 20 minutes before waking from surgery in the recovery room. This allows enough time for the anesthetic to numb pain after tummy tuck surgery.
Along with prescription pain medications, TAP blocks provide direct relief to the tummy tuck surgical site. It is a form of somatic anesthesia to reduce pain in the abdominal wall. TAP blocks may also be used alongside quadratus lumborum blocks (QLBs) in some cases for additional somatic and visceral pain relief after surgery.
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