Anesthesia is an important part of any cosmetic surgical procedure – from a tummy tuck, to a facelift or breast augmentation.
However, there are many misconceptions about anesthesia. Many people don’t know what to expect, and don’t understand the difference between general anesthesia and topical anesthesia.
In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between each type of anesthesia and help you understand the basics about how anesthesia works.
This is what most people likely think about when they picture “anesthesia.” General anesthesia uses powerful drugs, delivered intravenously, to put a patient under. These drugs render you completely unresponsive and unconscious, allowing the surgery to take place while you are in a deep state of unconsciousness (comatose).
In turn, this allows surgeons to perform complex operations without worrying about patients shifting their position during the procedure or feeling any pain. During anesthesia, you will be completely unable to feel pain or discomfort and you will likely experience amnesia, not remembering anything about the procedure.
General anesthesia does have a number of potential side effects due to the power of the anesthetic medicines used. Dizziness, memory loss and confusion, shivering, nausea, and vomiting are common side effects post-operation and usually are mitigated within a few hours.
And to answer the question on everyone’s mind – Yes, this type of anesthesia is also very safe. The mortality rate for general anesthesia is only about 1 in 100,000 - 200,000. For comparison, the chance that you’ll get struck by lightning in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000!
Local anesthesia is very different than general anesthesia. Unlike general anesthesia, you are “awake,” and the anesthetic is only administered “locally” to a particular part of your body.
This type of anesthesia is usually used for more minor surgeries, such as mini facelifts. Drugs are used to block pain receptors in one particular area, but you remain conscious. These drugs may be injected or take the form of a spray or ointment.
A sedative may also be given during a procedure that involves local anesthesia. This sedative reduces your level of consciousness and allows you to remain in a semi-lucid state, while minimizing any potential discomfort or movement.
Local anesthesia has fewer side effects than general anesthesia. The most obvious is numbness of the treated area. Care must be taken to avoid injuring it – accidentally chewing on the cheeks after a face lift, for example, is a common problem.
Other side effects can include dizziness, nausea, blurred vision or headaches. These typically wear off after just a few hours. Complications are extremely rare, and usually quite minor, such as numbness or tingling of the skin.
Local anesthesia is even safer than general anesthesia. There is no measured mortality rate for local anesthesia
Understand Your Anesthetic Options – And Which Ones May Be Right For Your Needs!
Everyone is different. That means that different anesthesia options may be recommended during your cosmetic surgery depending on your age, health and the procedure being performed.
Got more questions about anesthesia and plastic surgery? Contact the Advanced Center for Plastic Surgery now for a consultation. One of our qualified staff will be happy to help you understand the anesthetic process and the best options for your unique situation.