Can cosmetic surgery be done under just local?
Patients sometimes ask me this question, and the short answer is ‘yes, sometimes.’ Most minor plastic surgery procedures can be performed under local. The most common procedures performed at Austin-Weston are breast augmentations, liposuction, and facelifts, and 99% of those procedures are not performed under local anesthesia, as they are not minor operations. Our surgeons feel they can do a better job if the patient is asleep and comfortable.
There are some doctors that offer lots of plastic surgery under local. Patients need to realize first why the doctor is offering local, and second that the procedure one doctor is offering under local is probably not the same procedure another doctor is offering under general anesthesia.
To the first point, it is important to make sure your doctor is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This is because this highest level of certification means the surgeon is safe to do surgery both under local and general anesthesia. Some doctors offer surgery only under local anesthesia because they have had hospital privileges revoked or are not licensed to perform surgery under general anesthesia. This is extremely important as your safety could be at risk.
An example to illustrate the second point is liposuction. Technically, liposuction can be performed under local anesthesia. Your surgeon injects numbing fluid, and once the numbing is working, the surgeon begins to remove fat using liposuction. The problem is that liposuction can hurt. And the more fat removed, the more it can hurt. So liposuction under local means you can only remove a small volume of fat, which means the patient only gets a small improvement. So if a patient is looking for a complete liposuction result, one that is the best plastic surgery result, then they would be best served by having general anesthesia and going completely to sleep.
The problem for patients is there is lots of misinformation in the world, and it can be so tempting to go with the cheaper option and not go to sleep for the surgery, but you may well find out the surgery is not done completely when done under local anesthesia, and the result can reflect that.
At Austin-Weston, the procedures we most often perform under local include small areas of liposuction, trimming excess skin after body contouring, or minor eyelid or facial operations. Our most popular operations and usually performed under general anesthesia because we are committed to results. General anesthesia is safe when performed in an accredited facility and by licensed practitioners, and this is why we staff a fully-accredited facility with 5 operating rooms.