One of the things that people tend to worry about when they are thinking about facial plastic surgery is the type of anesthesia that will be used or the potential risks of an anesthetic. While enduring surgery without any sort of anesthetic isn’t an option, people tend to get very concerned about the idea of being fully under during surgery or concerned about the potential side effects. 

Generally speaking, there are three main options when it comes to anesthesia for plastic surgery. Not every option is appropriate for every procedure, though, or for every patient. When you are discussing your surgical options with a facial plastic surgeon, a discussion about the various anesthesia options should be part of it.

Local Anesthesia

A local anesthetic is perhaps the most simple type of anesthetic. It numbs the area to be treated or operated on, and only that area. An example of a local anesthetic is the lidocaine that is often included in injectable fillers such as Perlane or Juvederm. A local anesthetic can also be used during some types of surgery, as long as the procedures are relatively short and only cover a limited area. For example, in some cases, eyelid surgery may be performed with just a local anesthetic.

The fact that you’re completely awake and with it when a surgeon uses a local anesthetic can be both a good and a bad thing. It might bother you to be aware of the fact that a surgeon is cutting into you, for example. But, since you aren’t out of it or unconscious, you also don’t have to wait for the anesthetic to wear off before heading home.

IV Sedation

Intravenous sedation is often combined with a local anesthetic and is a suitable option for  minor surgeries. Also known as conscious sedation, you will be out of it or sleepy during the procedure, but you won’t be fully unconscious. You’ll still be able to breathe on your own, for example, but the surgeon and surgical team will need to monitor you closely during the procedure to make sure there are no complications or other issues. The main benefit of sedation is that, although you aren’t fully under, you’ll have no recollection of the surgery itself afterwards.

You will have to do a few things to prepare before being given IV sedation. Usually, you will have to avoid eating or drinking anything, even water, a certain number of hours before the surgery. If your surgery is scheduled for first thing in the morning, you’ll typically have to avoid food and drink starting around midnight the night before. You will need to find a friend or family member to drive you to and from the surgical center, too. After the procedure is over, you’ll most likely be able to go home after an hour or two. While you’ll want to follow your surgeon’s instructions for recovery, you will be able to eat and drink when you get home.

General Anesthesia

When you receive general anesthesia during surgery, you are completely out, meaning you are more than just asleep. You won’t feel pain or any other sensations and won’t be able to breathe without assistance. Usually, general anesthesia is reserved for the most involved or longest lasting surgeries. A procedure such as a full facelift might be performed with general anesthesia. You might also be given it if you are going to have multiple surgeries performed at once, such as a brow lift and an eyelid lift combined.

Before general anesthesia, you’ll want to avoid eating or drinking, since the anesthetic relaxes your airway and your digestive tract. Typically, the anesthesia needs to be given by a trained anesthesiologist, to make sure you are getting the proper dose and to minimize the risk for complications.

While you can go home the same day after surgery even if you’ve been given general anesthesia, it usually takes a bit longer for the effects to wear off, and you might experience a few more side effects. Feelings of nausea can be common, for example, or you might have a dry mouth and hoarseness from going without liquid for so long. You won’t be able to drive yourself home from surgery and might continue to feel a bit “out of it” for a few hours after you’ve woken up.

The anesthesia option that’s right for you depends on the procedure you’re having done, your personal preference, and your facial plastic surgeon’s recommendation. In the Virginia Beach area, Dr. Kyle Choe, a board certified facial plastic surgeon, can review your options and let you know which options he uses during specific procedures. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Choe, call 757.389.5850 today.