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Plastic Surgery Anesthesia Options

‘Toronto plastic surgery anesthesia options are tailored for your procedure.’


If you need to have anesthesia, the type that is used will depend on the procedure, your medical history, and the assessment of plastic surgeon Lawrence Tong, MD and his anesthesia team.

There may be cases where there is more than one type of appropriate anesthesia for your particular procedure. In those instances, you will be able to choose. The underlying principle is for you to have your surgery in a setting where your comfort and safety take precedence above all else.

Local Anesthesia

Local anesthesia means that the anesthetic is administered directly to the area where the anesthetic effect is required. It is the type of anesthetic you would receive when removing a mole, or repairing a torn earlobe. It is identical to what is given in a dentist office for numbing the mouth. The anesthetic is usually given by needle injection to the area of surgery. You are fully awake and aware during the procedure. The area that is anesthetized will feel completely numb, and the effect lasts 1-2 hours before it wears off fully.

Typical procedures that use local anesthesia:

IV Sedation (“Twilight Anesthesia”)

This type of anesthesia is performed by administering the anesthetic medications through an IV (which is usually placed someplace in your arm). No endotracheal tube (a tube placed in the throat to assist your breathing) is used because you are breathing completely on your own during the entire procedure. From a patient’s standpoint, you will be generally unaware of your surroundings, but there may be times when you are more awake than other times (thus the term “twilight”). IV sedation is supplemented with local anesthetic in the area of surgery. IV sedation is not appropriate for all patients (e.g. people with sleep apnea) because the airway may be too floppy once the sedation medications kick in, making it difficult for them to breathe. During your consultation, an assessment of every patient undergoing anesthesia is performed for the appropriateness of this anesthesia method. The anesthesiologist may assess you before the day of your surgery as a part of this assessment.

Typical procedures that use IV sedation:

General Anesthesia

This type of anesthesia is performed with the use of an endotracheal tube (for breathing). From a patient’s standpoint, you will be asleep and unaware of your surroundings. It is a better choice for patients that want to be ‘knocked out’ and feel no discomfort whatsoever. It is a safer choice if you have airway issues that make it inappropriate to use IV sedation (e.g. sleep apnea). General anesthesia is a ‘deeper’ form of anesthesia that allows for much more invasive procedures to be done. This type of anesthesia is used for procedures like abdominal surgery or chest surgery. General anesthesia is a better option for specific plastic surgery procedures as well.

Typical procedures that utilize general anesthesia: