Talking to Your Plastic Surgeon About Anesthesia

Facial Plastic Surgery in Philadelphia, Scranton, and Maryland

Anesthesia is a necessary part of plastic surgery, but there are different levels and types of anesthesia that involve different risks and benefits. Before undergoing plastic surgery, talk to your surgeon about their preferred approach to anesthesia. Today, the vast majority of cosmetic procedures – including facial plastic surgery – can be performed under local anesthesia with IV sedation. Although general anesthesia is still used in certain situations, it is not usually the default option anymore.

Understanding the Risks of General Anesthesia

When you are placed under general anesthesia, a tube is placed in your throat and connected to a respirator that breathes for you. The drugs you are given will cause a deep sleep, paralyzing your body during the procedure. Some patients prefer this because they want to be completely knocked out during their surgery. However, general anesthesia involves higher complication rates and more side effects than local anesthesia. Recovery also tends to take longer, since your body is fighting to recover both from the procedure and the general anesthesia. Some of the most common side effects of general anesthesia include:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Incisional pain
Modern advances in monitoring technology have made general anesthesia much safer today. The risks are small when it is applied by a certified anesthesiologist. However, the advantages of local anesthesia with sedation have eclipsed the benefits of general anesthesia in the eyes of most patients and surgeons.

The Benefits of Local Anesthesia with Sedation

Local anesthesia involves numbing the area of the body that will be operated on, and placing the patient under IV (intravenous) sedation. You will be fully relaxed and virtually unaware of the surgery, but your body will not be completely paralyzed. This can actually benefit the surgical process in some cases. Additionally, since local anesthesia allows you to breathe on your own, no tubes need to be placed down your throat, and there is less danger of breathing-related complications. Your heart and lungs are under much less stress. The amount of sedation can be adjusted to meet your needs and comfort level. IV sedation is capable of putting you into a deep state of comfort and near-sleep. Since less medication is needed overall, your recovery will be faster, and the risks to your body significantly decrease. The effects of sedation and local anesthesia wear off quickly, meaning you can walk out of the office without nausea and the other side effects that come with general anesthesia. If you have further questions about anesthesia and patient safety at our practice, please contact Dr. John J.W. Lee today to schedule a personal consultation. We serve patients in the Philadelphia and Scranton areas of Pennsylvania, along with Northern Maryland.