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By Jerome Edelstein, MD

As is the case for any surgery, your cosmetic surgical procedure involves anesthesia, which will be administered by a board certified anesthesiologist (also known as an anesthetist). Anesthesia provides relief from pain and discomfort during your procedure.

The following is a list of the most common types of anesthesia administered during a cosmetic surgical procedure. The one you receive depends on your treatment and medical condition, both of which you’ll discuss not just with your plastic surgeon, but also with your anesthetist beforehand.


When most people hear that they’ll be “going under”, they assume that they’ll be unconscious or in a deep sleep. Indeed, general anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia administered during surgical cosmetic procedures. It induces unconsciousness, so that you are basically “out” during your surgery.

You will gently be put off to sleep by a medication given intravenously. After you are asleep, the general anesthetic will continue to be administered either by mouth (through the breathing tube) or intravenously. Once it takes effect, you won’t remember or feel a thing. The entire time you are “under”, the anesthetist will remain at your side, closely monitoring your vital signs to make sure you’re safe. A breathing tube will ensure you continue to breathe properly. Many times, a special breathing tube called a “laryngeal mask” can be utilized. This tube covers your windpipe instead of having to pass through it. Some patients express concern that they may wake up during surgery, or not wake up once their surgery is complete.

“I have never had a patient wake up during the surgery and I have never had a patient not wake up at the end of the surgery.”

Your surgeon will wake you up right when your surgery ends, while you are still in the operating room.

When you “wake up”, you may feel disoriented and groggy. Some patients also experience nausea and vomiting. This is very common and something that your team of doctors and nurses will help you with while you recover.


Regional anesthesia involves blocking sensation in only one area of your body. You will be fully conscious but unable to feel anything in the treated area. If you’ve ever had an epidural, commonly administered during childbirth, then you are familiar with regional anesthesia.


The primary differences between local and regional anesthesia is the depth at which sensation is blocked and the area targeted. Local anesthesia numbs a smaller area of the body at a shallow depth. It is usually administered by injection. For example, the injectable filler, Juvéderm Ultra, is combined with the local anesthetic lidocaine to reduce discomfort during treatment.

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