When considering cosmetic procedures of any kind – from the most extensive Mommy Makeover to a little liposuction to tighten up a trouble spot – you have to think about what role anesthesia will play.

Anesthesia refers to the medication given to limit discomfort during a surgical procedure. There are two main types used for cosmetic procedures and plastic surgery. The first is local anesthesia with or without IV sedation. The second is general anesthesia, which will be the focus of this article.

Several factors go into creating effective general anesthesia:

  • Analgesia to relieve pain associated with the surgery.
  • Sedation to allow the patient to “sleep” through the procedure, so they are unaware of the surgery while it is happening.
  • Amnesia to prevent any memory of the procedure after the patient wakes up.
  • Muscle relaxation to relax the muscles in the area of the procedure and prevent muscular contractions that could disrupt the surgery.
  • Reversibility so that the effects of all these components can be reliably stopped and reversed after surgery.

In short, general anesthesia causes you to be unconscious, unaware, and unable to feel pain during your plastic surgery procedure. It will also keep you from remembering the procedure after it is over. After all, you want to think more about the great results than the surgery that got them!

A specialized physician called an anesthesiologist, or a certified anesthesia provider under the supervision of an anesthesiologist, administers the anesthesia. This leaves your plastic surgeon free to focus on the surgery while the anesthesia provider monitors your well-being. They keep an eye on your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and temperature, and adjust your medications as needed.

If you don’t want to remember your procedure, general anesthesia is the best option for you. But there are more risks than with local anesthesia. The immediate recovery is a bit slower as the effects of the anesthesia medications wear off. In addition, the patient will require the placement of a tube into the airway to mechanically breathe for them while under anesthesia.

As part of your preoperative assessment, you will provide your medical history and undergo a physical exam. This is meant to reveal health issues that could cause complications with anesthesia. It gives the anesthesiologist necessary information to plan the appropriate approach for you, or in some cases to recommend against general anesthesia due to the risk of complications. It is important to disclose any health conditions, medications, or history of complications from anesthesia with your surgeon. This includes cigarette, alcohol, and illicit drug use.

General anesthesia is the method of choice for more complex procedures such as a Mommy Makeover. It allows the plastic surgeon to be sure of the patient’s comfort while performing the multiple procedures involved. However, for less complex procedures, local anesthesia with or without IV sedation may be used. It will be the topic of next month’s post on anesthesia.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about a specific procedure and the role anesthesia plays in it, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Slack to schedule a consultation in his Allen, TX office.