Health Check: New anesthetic being used during surgery

Jennifer Zira had a recent follow-up visit with her plastic surgeon, Dr. Richard Zienowicz.

"I had a tummy tuck and abdominal reconstruction," she said.

Zira said she gained a lot of weight when she was pregnant with her now 3-year-old son.

"And after pregnancy I was probably a good 130 pounds overweight. I lost most of that, a little over 100, and I had a lot of extra skin," she said.

She underwent successful surgery on March 13.

But during the surgery, Zienowicz used a new, long-acting, non-narcotic pain medication. It's called Exparel.

"It's not a narcotic. This blocks the transmission of pain through the nerves," he said.

The Exparel was injected alongside sutures between muscles.

"The medication, it completely blocked everything, like my whole stomach. I didn't have any pain. Everyone's like, (single quote) 'You're going to be in so much pain.' I really wasn't," Zira said.

Zira had something to compare it to. She had gallbladder surgery a few years ago.

"After the gallbladder, I couldn't walk for like two weeks. It was really, really, really painful," she said.

"If you can give something for long-term analgesia, you're ahead of the game. People don't have to take narcotics every four hours when they feel that breakthrough pain," Zienowicz said.

After four or five days Zira said she was up walking around.

"I couldn't believe it," she said.

The FDA approval of Exparel was based on two multicenter clinical trials that involved patients who underwent especially painful surgeries.

Exparel doesn't necessarily eliminate the need for narcotic pain killers after surgery, but it has been shown to significantly reduce the need for them.