For many patients who are worried about general anesthesia risks, the option of local anesthetic or even twilight sedation is preferable when going under the knife. Body contouring procedures like liposuction can be performed using local anesthesia, local with IV sedation, or general anesthesia.
When using local injections of lidocaine, patients are conscious and able to talk to the surgeon throughout the procedure, and typically experience minimal discomfort. This technique, predominantly used in tumescent liposuction, is extremely successful in patients who do not need large amounts of fat removed.
Tumescent lipo is one of the most common methods in which large amounts of anesthetic are injected into the fat to numb the area and minimize blood loss. It’s important to note, however, that only so much local anesthetic can be given, which directly relates to how much excess fat can be removed without the patient feeling pain.
Lipo under local anesthetic poses less risk
Local anesthesia is frequently chosen during liposuction or revision lipo for three primary reasons:
- Recent research has shown that lipo performed using local anesthesia has fewer post-operative complications compared to that with general anesthesia, where morbidity rates are higher.
- Local anesthesia enables the patient to stay alert during the procedure and communicate with the doctor.
- Without general anesthesia-induced nausea, patients generally recover faster and are able to resume their normal activities shortly after the surgery.
As an added benefit, local anesthetic helps lessen potential bruising because large volumes are administered to “plump up” or tumesce the surrounding tissues.
Liposuction is most often used to reduce excess fatty tissue in the stomach area, flanks, thighs, hips, buttocks, upper arms and back. In instances where more aggressive lipo is needed – for example, in the lower abdomen and love handle area where stubborn fat pockets accumulate – some surgeons may supplement local anesthesia with a light I.V. sedation to help mitigate discomfort. By using this two-pronged approach, patients can avoid multiple procedures and have more adipose tissue removed in one fell swoop.
Understanding risks of liposuction
Patients should keep in mind that all cosmetic surgery procedures and anesthetic techniques carry risks. First and foremost, ensure your liposuction is being performed in a fully accredited surgical suite, with a board certified plastic surgeon (the American Board of Plastic Surgery) who works with an experienced anesthesiologist.
Side effects of liposuction may include:
- Swelling, bruising and numbness (temporary)
- Mild nausea and vomiting from lidocaine injections
- Irritation around the injection sites
- Irregular skin contours, rippling (less common)
- Damage to the skin or nerves (very rare)
- Discoloration of the skin (rare)
Learn more about liposuction in Manhattan
If you’re considering liposuction in NYC, choosing the right surgeon is a critical decision. Start with a one-on-one consultation, in which you can discuss your aesthetic goals, ask about relevant experience and review the surgeon’s gallery of liposuction before and after photos. In some cases, more than one appointment is needed to ensure all questions have been answered and you’re ready to move forward.
To schedule a private appointment with Dr. Aviva Preminger and learn more about getting plastic surgery in New York City, please call (212) 706-1900.