Local vs. General Anesthesia

Although plastic surgery is often an exciting and long-awaited surgery for most people, it is still a surgical procedure and can be daunting for many. Often, people are not familiar with surgery or operations, which may be their first encounter going “under the knife.” Understandably, the unknown can cause considerable anxiety and distress.  This anxiety can also lead to patients making rash decisions regarding their anesthesia options (i.e., choosing to go under so that they aren’t aware of anything happening, etc.). 

However, at Wellspring Plastic Surgery, we offer both local and general anesthesia options. Still, we want you to make an informed decision that is best for you and your surgical procedure. Our goal is to equip you with all the knowledge and resources you need to have a positive and successful plastic surgery experience both before and after your procedure.

If you have an upcoming plastic surgery or are considering one in the future, keep reading for a breakdown of everything you need to know regarding local and general anesthesia. 

What is Local Anesthesia? 

Local anesthesia is usually a one-time injection of medicine that numbs a small area of the body. The injection can consist of multiple small injections to the surgical site depending on how large the site is and how much medicine it will take to numb it fully. 

Local anesthesia is usually recommended for less extensive surgeries like blepharoplasty, nose jobs, chin implant, and some small liposuction. However, all anesthesia options should be thorough with your doctor regardless of the type or extent of the surgery. 

Benefits of  Local Anesthesia

The benefits of local anesthesia are pretty straightforward. Without going fully under, you will be able to recover more quickly and get home faster. Further, your procedure may be less expensive and most patients experience minimal side effects and complications associated with anesthesia. 

Cons of Local Anesthesia

The primary con to local  Anesthesia is that you will be fully awake and alert during your surgical procedure. Although you should not feel any pain, some patients do feel some pressure, tugging, or discomfort in or around the area being operated on. 

What is General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is a medicine minor administered through a mask or an IV placed in the vein, essentially putting the patient into a profound sleep and paralyzes the body. While under general anesthesia, the patient will be unconscious. Many of the body’s functions will slow down or need help effectively (a tube is usually placed down the patient’s throat to help them breathe). 

Throughout the surgical procedure, the physician anesthesiologist will monitor critical bodily functions and vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, etc.  

Some surgeries like liposuction, a butt lift, breast augmentation require the use of general anesthesia because of the scope and extensiveness of the surgery. 

Benefits of  General Anesthesia

General anesthesia provides a surgical experience where the patient does not feel, see, hear, or experience the procedure in any way, i.eThe patient goes to “sleep.” When they wake up, their surgery is over. This is often a considerable perk to people who have surgical anxiety or distress over experiencing the surgery. 

According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, it also allows for proper muscle relaxation, airway control, breathing, circulation, rapid administration, straightforward procedures, & prolonged sedation in a single setting

Cons of General Anesthesia

Unlike local anesthesia, where you are welcome to leave relatively quickly after your procedure, general anesthesia generally takes patients around an hour to wake up and around 24 hours in an outpatient facility to recover from the effects of the general anesthesia and begin recovery from the actual surgery.

Further, with general anesthesia, there is also a higher risk of complications and side effects. Some patients experience a sore throat from the tube, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. 

Like most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to both anesthesia options. It is essential to have open and candid conversations with your plastic surgeon when determining which is suitable for you. Consider the type of procedure you are having, the recovery process, and your mental state regarding the surgery. If finances are something that concerns you, consider the cost of each option as well. 

The most crucial factor is that you are educated so that you can make an informed decision for yourself! 

If you are interested and want to learn more about our plastic surgery options, we are more than happy to walk you through the entire process from start to finish. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 512-600-2888 or email us. 

You can also schedule a consultation here. 

We look forward to hearing from you!