While researching plastic surgery options, you have probably wondered about anesthesia. You may have come across several anesthesia terms, and perhaps wondered what they mean. There are a number of different methods of anesthesia, each with its benefits and considerations. Understanding the different options for anesthesia can help you make better informed decisions about your plastic surgery options.
Anesthesia decision making
The type of anesthesia used during your plastic surgery procedure will depend on a variety of factors. It is important that you discuss your options with your plastic surgeon during your consultation. Be sure to let your surgeon know about any prior surgeries you may have had or about prior experiences with anesthesia, both good and bad. In addition, your plastic surgeon needs to know about any allergies you may have, your personal wishes and concerns, your age, weight, and any medical conditions you may have. All of these factors will help your plastic surgeon guide you to the best anesthesia option for you.
Types of anesthesia
You have several anesthesia options of which the best option will be determined by your surgeon’s preferences, your surgeon’s assessment of your needs and goals, and your own preferences and concerns. Options include:
Local anesthesia is the least invasive method, affecting only the area to be addressed during a procedure. The patient is completely awake during the procedure when local anesthesia is used, although on occasion it may be used with twilight sedation as well if a patient is feeling nervous or stressed about their procedure. Typically, local anesthesia involves a numbing medication either applied topically to the skin over the treatment area or, more frequently, it is injected with a small needle and syringe into the skin and tissues in and around the treatment area. The result should be significant, if not a complete, numbing of the treatment area.
Intravenous (“twilight”) sedation
Intravenous sedation is also called “twilight” sedation or conscious sedation. It typically is a combination of two medications, a sedative and an anesthetic that allows the patient to relax while also blocking pain receptors. This type of sedation is usually administered through an IV, and the patient’s vital signs are monitored during the procedure. Many patients are awake during intravenous sedation, although some do fall asleep. Even if a patient stays awake during twilight sedation, they often have little to no memory of their procedure. Some patients also receive supplemental oxygen through a mask or nasal cannula as well as IV fluids with conscious sedation.
With general anesthesia, patients are given medications to induce a deep sleep and block pain. General anesthesia is administered through an IV, and under careful monitoring of the patient’s condition and vital signs during surgery. It is typically used for procedures that are more invasive or may take a longer period of time. It may also be used for procedures that may cause significant discomfort with other other methods of anesthesia or that may cause significant stress. During general anesthesia, you should be completely asleep and pain-free during the procedure.
Regional anesthesia (nerve blocks)
Regional anesthesia, or a nerve block, is a type of anesthesia in which a large area of the body is anesthetized or made numb while the rest of the body remains unaffected. The anesthetic medication is injected close to a nerve or nerve bundle to render the adjacent area numb. There are two primary types of nerve blocks, peripheral and epidural or spinal blocks. Peripheral nerve blocks are used to anesthetize the arms, hands, legs, feet, or groin. Epidural or spinal nerve blocks are used to anesthetize the entire lower portion of the body. Many women will recognize epidural or spinal nerve blocks as the type of anesthetic often used in childbirth.
When scheduling your plastic surgery consultation and considering your questions and concerns, be sure that a discussion about your anesthesia options be included. Please call Monarch Plastic Surgery today to schedule your plastic surgery consultation. For our Leawood and Lansing offices, please call us at (913) 663-3838. To reach our North Kansas City office, please call (816) 436-3262.