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Trending Now: Local Anesthesia for Surgical Procedures

Trending Now: Local Anesthesia for Surgical Procedures

Patients in need of surgical procedures are seeking are opting for local anesthesia at a rate higher than ever, according to the New York Times.

Why Some Patients Prefer Local AnesthesiaLocal anesthesia allows patients to stay awake during surgery, which translates into less post-op nausea and shorter recovery periods for most individuals. For some people, general anesthesia causes bothersome or uncomfortable side effects, like extreme sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, chills and confusion.

Other patients have more serious effects such as delirium, cognitive dysfunction and malignant hypothermia, a very serious and potentially fatal inherited health condition that causes fever and severe muscle contractions.

Many individuals are also less anxious under local anesthesia than general anesthesia, making for a better experience for the patient. Patients are choosing to stay awake through many kinds of surgeries, especially cosmetic procedures that historically required general anesthesia or IV sedation.

In addition to faster recovery and less anxiety for patients, many procedures that used to mean going to the hospital are now performed in the office versus operating rooms. Patients also appreciate that having the procedure in the clinic or office also means cost savings, as there is no longer a need for a high-dollar anesthesiologist or hospital fees.

Dr. Bill Johnson, M.D., is a Dallas, Texas, cosmetic physician that performs tumescent liposuction and other cosmetic procedures under local anesthetic in his clinic.

"Many patients choose to have tumescent liposuction because they like the faster recovery time," Johnson said. "In fact, many patients are back typically back to their normal routines and activities within just a few days."

No Sedation Speeds up Procedure and Recovery Time
During the tumescent liposuction procedure, a solution of saline, lidocaine, and epinephrine are pumped into the treatment. Saline helps to wash away unwanted fat and blood. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that numbs the area to be liposuctioned.

"The patient is completely numbed in the treatment area, which eliminates the need for sedation," Johnson said.

The epinephrine in the tumescent fluid shrinks blood vessels in the treatment area, which greatly minimizes bleeding and further reduces complications from the procedure. This is a significant benefit compared to traditional liposuction that uses general anesthesia to sedate patients.

The tumescent procedure is also much faster than regular liposuction and typically takes less than an hour to complete. This quick window has earned tumescent liposuction the nickname, 'lunchtime liposuction' or 'drive-thru liposuction'.

Skipping SurgeryNot only are patients opting to skip the sedation, they are also choosing to skip having surgery all together and using fat instead.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports increases in fat transfers for many procedure areas with facial fat injections going up 13 percent, fat transfer buttock augmentation up 26 percent and natural breast augmentation increasing 72 percent over 2016.

Patients are choosing fat transfer procedures for good reason: they’re minimally invasive and are done under local anesthesia. These two factors mean faster recovery and fewer complications.

Cosmetic procedures like the Brazilian butt lift and natural breast augmentation use the fat that has been liposuctioned from the patient using tumescent liposuction. This liposuctioned fat is then used to reshape the buttocks and add volume to breasts. Fat can also be used for other body areas to make cosmetic improvements. One such area that fat is often used in is the face in lieu of the traditional facelift procedure.

"Patients can get many of the anti-aging benefits of facelift procedure through facial fat transfer without ever having to go under the knife," Johnson said.

Not only are fat transfers minimally invasive and help to reshape treated areas, they also trigger the body to kick of collagen production, which tightens the skin. This helps smooth out wrinkles of the face and give additional lift to treated areas like the breasts and the buttocks.

"It is no surprise that fat transfers are an increasingly popular option for many patients- they're faster, minimally invasive, only need local anesthesia and provide long lasting results," Johnson said.


New York Times. "Going Under the Knife, With Eyes and Ears Wide Open." NYT. 25 March 2017.

American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "Plastic Surgery Statistics 2016".

Meta Keywords: Anesthesia, local, general, liposuction, tumescent, fat transfer, drive thru

Meta Description: Patients in need of surgical procedures are seeking are opting for local anesthesia at a rate higher than ever, according to the New York Times.

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