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Anesthesia Types Explained

Ever wonder what the different types of anesthesia are? This primer talks about local, regional nerve blocks, topic, intravenous sedation, and general anesthesia.

Anesthesia is defined by Stedman’s medical dictionary as “loss of sensation resulting from pharmacologic depression of nerve function or from neurological dysfunction.” What that means for the patient is comfort during procedures. When considering cosmetic surgery, there are several options for anesthesia depending on the type of procedure performed. Local anesthesia, regional nerve blocks, topical anesthesia, intravenous sedation, and general anesthesia are all options when considering surgery.

What is local anesthesia and how is it different from topical anesthesia?

Local anesthesia is the use of medications injected into the ‘local’ area, the area immediately around what is to be operated on, which results in numbing. The medications used may last anywhere from one hour to most of the day. Local anesthesia generally involves a shot but topical anesthesia can be used to minimize the pain. Topical anesthesia using the same compounds but instead of going below the skin, the anesthesia is applied to the skin’s surface. The problem with topical anesthesia is that it does not penetrate very far under the skin’s surface so for more invasive procedures, local anesthesia with shots is required.

What are regional nerve blocks?

In different parts of the body, there are well defined patterns of nerve innervations. For instance, the sensation for the middle part of the cheek is from a nerve which comes out of the face just below the eye socket. By numbing this nerve, the entire cheek, upper lip, and upper teeth can be numbed. A regional nerve block takes advantage of this anatomy and numbs an entire nerve. Unfortunately some areas of the body are innervated by multiple nerves and regional nerve blocks are not possible.

What is intravenous sedation?

Intravenous (IV) sedation involves administering medications which make a person sleepy. In true IV sedation, a breathing tube is not necessary as the person is able to breath on their own and protect their own airway. The medications used often have a short half life so that when the medication is stopped within a very short time it is out of the body and the person is wide awake. This type of anesthesia is most often used in colonoscopy procedures. The medications use cause a type of amnesia so the person will most likely not remember anything even though they were awake.

What is general anesthesia?

General anesthesia is the type of anesthesia that most people associate with surgery. Medications and or gas is used to make the person sleepy. A breathing tube of some type is used to protect the airway and help the person breath. The medications generally cause amnesia so that the person does not remember the event.

For more information about plastic surgery DallasFree Articles, visit Dr. Verret on the web or call for an appointment 972.608.0100.

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Dr. Verret is a facial plastic surgeon in the north Dallas suburb of Plano, TX. He is board certified in Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery and fellowship trained in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. He specializes only in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the face and neck. His practice includes surgical and non-surgical techniques including Botox, Juvederm, facial fillers, acne scar revision, rhinoplasty (nasal reshaping), blepharoplasty, facelift, eyelift, brow lift, and hair restoration. For more information be sure to visit him on the web or call for an appointment at 972.608.0100.

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