What to Know About Anesthesia

by Wendy Travis

What to Know About Anesthesia

When you schedule a cosmetic procedure, it is likely that anesthesia will be included in the operation. For some treatments, a local anesthetic is sufficient, but more invasive procedures often require general anesthesia. Anesthesia involves additional expense and carries a degree of risk, so it is important to be educated about the medication that will be used before your cosmetic surgery appointment. This article offers basic information on the types of anesthesia, as well as an estimate of the additional cost involved.

Types of Anesthesia
There are a number of different types of anesthesia that cosmetic surgeons may recommend, depending on the procedure and the size of the treated area. The most common anesthesia types include:

  • Local – Local anesthesia is usually applied topically, although some local anesthetics are administered by injection as well. The area affected by the medication is small, and the effects of the anesthesia do not last as long. When a patient is given a local anesthetic, she is commonly awake during the procedure. However, sedation may be combined with a local anesthetic to make the patient more relaxed and comfortable for the treatment.
  • Regional – Regional anesthesia is administered to a larger area of the body, usually through an injection. One type of regional anesthesia, known as a nerve block, is often used for procedures on the limbs or face. This medication works by blocking pain to a specific nerve or group of nerves. An epidural is injected into the spinal cord, and is used to block pain to an even larger area of the body, such as the abdomen, legs or hips. It is often used during labor to make the mother more comfortable.
  • General – This type of anesthesia is used for invasive procedures and is offered through an IV or a mask placed over the nose and mouth. General anesthesia allows the patient to "sleep" during the procedure, and can sometimes create brief memory loss related to the time frame around the surgery itself. General anesthesia carries the greatest amount of potential risk and takes longer to recover from.
  • Sedation – Sedation might be offered in conjunction with a local or regional anesthetic. There are many levels of sedation, ranging from full consciousness to deep sleep similar to what a patient experiences under general anesthesia. If you are offered sedation for your cosmetic procedure, it is important to ask what about the level of sedation so you know what to expect from the medication.

Side Effects of Anesthesia
Although the risks associated with anesthesia are relatively small, it is important to know what they are and what you can do to reduce them. Some of the most common side effects associated with these medications include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness

The incidence of these side effects is fairly minimal, and additional medications can be offered to effectively treat most of them. The more anesthesia you receive and the longer you are under, the greater the likelihood you will experience some side effects from. Patients are kept in recovery for a period of time after surgery to ensure their bodies adjust properly once the medication is out of the system.

Cost of Anesthesia
Whenever anesthesia is used for a surgical procedure, the cost of the procedure goes up. In addition to the price of the medication, general anesthesia and some types of sedation require a special doctor, known as an anesthesiologist, to monitor the patient during the procedure. This will also raise the cost of the surgery. The average cost of anesthesia is between $350 and $1,200 per procedure, if an anesthesiologist is needed. If the doctor performing the procedure administers the medication, it may be factored into the total cost of the surgery.

To learn more about potential anesthesia fees associated specific plastic surgeons and procedures offered in your area, contact us today and schedule a private, no-strings consultation with a board-certified surgeon from the PSP national network.

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