patient  with doctor assistant in background with close up focus of syringe in doctors hand

Worried about what you might feel during plastic surgery? During any medical procedure, it’s completely reasonable to feel nervous about the pain during the process. While not all plastic surgery techniques are invasive, plenty require anesthesia or, at a minimum, some numbing cream applied to the targeted area. 

Anesthesia options are available to help you feel comfortable, safe, and pain-free during plastic surgery. Some surgical procedures will demand a certain level of anesthesia, while other non-invasive options won’t involve as much. The type used will depend on the individual circumstances, but you should always feel comfortable discussing your options with your plastic surgeon. They can answer any questions and provide details on what to expect for each procedure and how the anesthesia will come into play. 

Learning about the different kinds of anesthesia available and what is used for which procedures can help you feel more prepared and secure. 

What Is Anesthesia

Anesthesia is the practice of administering drugs to prevent pain or sensation during medical procedures. The drugs used in anesthesia, called anesthetics, work by blocking nerve impulses in the brain and spinal cord. There are several different types of anesthesia, each with its own benefits and risks.

The type of anesthesia used can depend on several factors. Typically the main determining factor is the type of procedure you’re having performed. If it is more serious, you will require more anesthesia and often be entirely unconscious for the surgery. If it is non-invasive, like laser treatment, you may only have topical numbing options proposed. Some people have allergies or medical conditions that make certain options more dangerous, impacting the best type. 

When determining the type of anesthesia, the healthcare professional working with you will need a medical history and choose the most appropriate option based on the procedure and your comfort level. Some people have lower pain tolerance and may need more numbing agents than others. 

If you have a more serious procedure, you will likely undergo general anesthesia. An anesthesiologist will likely work with the team to help keep you safe and unconscious. Anesthesiologists are responsible for administering anesthesia and monitoring the patient’s vital signs during the procedure. They work closely with surgeons and other medical team members to ensure the patient’s safety and comfort.

Local Anesthesia in Plastic Surgery

Local anesthesia is often used for plastic surgery procedures that are less invasive, such as liposuction, breast augmentation and reconstruction, and eyelid surgery. This type of anesthesia is administered directly to the surgical site through injection. It numbs the specific area of the body where the procedure occurs.

One of the benefits of local anesthesia is that it allows the patient to be awake and alert during the surgery, which can provide a greater sense of control and comfort. Additionally, local anesthesia typically has a faster recovery time than general anesthesia, which benefits patients who want to return to their normal activities as soon as possible.

During a plastic surgery procedure with local anesthesia, the patient will be given a sedative to help them relax, but they will be able to communicate with the surgical team during the procedure. The anesthesiologist will monitor the patient’s vital signs and adjust the anesthesia as needed.

It’s important to note that local anesthesia is not suitable for all types of plastic surgery. For example, more complex and invasive procedures such as facelifts, tummy tucks, or body contouring may require general anesthesia or IV sedation. It’s always best to consult with your surgeon and anesthesiologist to determine the best type of anesthesia for your specific procedure.

Overall, Local anesthesia is a safe and effective option for many types of plastic surgery. It allows for a more comfortable recovery and less downtime, but it’s important to consider all the options and consult with the medical team to make an informed decision.

General Anesthesia in Plastic Surgery

General anesthesia is a commonly used form of anesthesia for plastic surgery procedures that are more invasive, such as facelifts, tummy tucks, and body contouring. It is used to induce a state of unconsciousness, allowing the patient to be unaware of the procedure and feel no pain.

During a plastic surgery procedure with general anesthesia, the patient will be unconscious and not feel any pain. To ensure their safety and comfort, the anesthesiologist will monitor the patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels.

General anesthesia carries some risks, such as reactions to the anesthesia, nausea, and vomiting, and it may take longer for the patient to recover than with local or regional anesthesia. However, it is generally considered safe and effective when administered by a qualified anesthesiologist.

The two main ways to administer general anesthesia are intravenous (IV) and inhalation.


Intravenous anesthesia, also known as IV sedation, is administered through an injection into a vein. This type of anesthesia is considered the most effective and fastest-acting form of general anesthesia. It is also considered very safe and allows the anesthesiologist to adjust the level of sedation throughout the procedure easily.


Inhalation anesthesia is administered by inhaling a gas through a mask or tube. This type of anesthesia is considered to be less effective and slower-acting compared to IV sedation. However, it does have the advantage of being easy to administer and allowing the patient to recover faster.

Twilight Anesthesia in Plastic Surgery

Twilight anesthesia, also known as conscious sedation, is a form of anesthesia used for some types of plastic surgery. It provides a mild to moderate level of sedation, allowing the patient to be awake but relaxed and pain-free during the procedure.

Twilight anesthesia is typically administered through an IV, including a combination of sedatives, pain relievers, and anti-anxiety drugs. The patient will be awake but in a drowsy state and unable to remember the procedure.

This type of anesthesia is often used for procedures such as liposuction, breast augmentation, and eyelid surgery. It can also be used for more complex operations such as tummy tucks, facelifts, and body contouring, but may only be appropriate for specifi

Topical Numbing Agents

Topical anesthesia is applied directly to the skin in the form of a cream or gel and temporarily numbs the skin’s surface. It is commonly used for laser hair removal, skin resurfacing, and minor skin excisions. It can also be used in conjunction with local injections to increase the effectiveness of the anesthesia and reduce the amount of injection needed.

One of the benefits of topical anesthesia is that it does not require an injection, which can be uncomfortable for some patients. It also allows for a more targeted effect, as the anesthesia can be applied directly to the area of the skin that will be treated.

Topical anesthetics come in various forms, such as creams, gels, sprays, and patches, and they may contain different ingredients, such as lidocaine, tetracaine, benzocaine, and prilocaine. The right choice of topical anesthetic will depend on the type of procedure and patient preferences.

No Pain With Beauty Gains

Anesthesia is a part of many medical procedures. You receive it when going to the dentist or getting a tattoo in a specific area. It’s common in the medical field, and while there are some risks, it is safe, and the risks are well understood. You should not have any anesthesia-related concerns as long as you work with a licensed plastic surgeon at a reputable facility. 

The type of anesthesia may vary, but it will always be applied by a practiced anesthesiologist or practitioner if it is a topical anesthetic. The most important part of serious medical procedures is that you feel comfortable and safe. Speaking with your plastic surgeon about your options and learning the different types is a great way to be better informed and prepared. And if you are still worried, have a frank conversation with your surgeon about those concerns.
Working with a licensed, well-practiced plastic surgeon like Leif Rogers, MD, will ensure you get the best results possible while feeling comfortable and taken care of. At Dr. Rogers’s office, you can feel confident you are working with a professional, licensed plastic surgeon with over two decades of experience in the field. The team working with Dr. Rogers is trained and ready to help you achieve your goal body. Reach out today to learn more and schedule a consultation.

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