Illinois plastic surgeon cutting back on prescribing narcotics post-surgery, says patients have a “low tolerance” for pain

CHICAGO, Illinois-- The U.S. makes up just four percent of the world’s population, yet Americans consume up to 95% of the world’s narcotic pain killers.

Those numbers didn't sit well with Dr. Lawrence Iteld, a Chicagoland plastic surgeon. But he needed something to give patients in pain after surgery, so he came up with a solution that stems from personal experience.

"It was when I had my wisdom teeth taken out during medical school," Dr. Iteld remembers. "I took a Vicodin and I got really sick from it, then took Advil and felt better than I had on the narcotics. So the question is: can I extrapolate that to patients?"

Opioids work at different parts of the body, like the brain, the spinal level, and in the tissue. But Iteld calls them "sloppy drugs" that have "a lot of side effects."

Symptoms like tightness, throbbing, and burning follow many of the procedures Dr. Iteld routinely performs. But instead of narcotic pain pills, his patients take a combination of anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, and medications to decrease nerve sensitivity.

 

“So really, other than plain Tylenol, patients are rarely requiring any as-needed pain medicine," Dr. Iteld said.

“Because I was so pain free, I felt like I was perfectly fine to lift up these weights, and I had to remind myself I actually can’t lift up a 45-pound plate because I need to pay attention to my recovery," Iteld's recent patient, Amanda Pezzullo, said.

“Even if you can’t eliminate narcotics, if you can prescribe less it will really start to cut down on some of the major societal issues we’re having with opioids," Dr. Iteld said.

Opioid addiction often begin with a legal prescription. That’s why Iteld says that instead of throwing drugs at symptoms, he tries to find the source of the pain and treats that.

For more information about Dr Iteld and his philosophy, check out driteld.com.