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Is Local Anesthesia Okay for Liposuction?

Liposuction can be performed under either local or general anesthesia. During liposuction with local anesthesia, the patient is awake, while under general anesthesia, the patient sleeps through the whole procedure. While either technique can mean beautiful liposuction results, there are some important differences between the two.

Local vs. General Anesthesia

Tumescent liposuction remains the gold standard for liposuction techniques, and may be performed under local anesthesia rather than general. While general anesthesia allows for larger amounts of fat to be removed at once, many patients prefer slower, more incremental fat removal under local anesthesia to the risks associated with general anesthesia.

The Benefits of Local Anesthesia

During liposuction with local anesthesia, the patient is more responsive to repositioning or even standing up to check for the symmetry during surgery. Local anesthesia also allows patients to recover more quickly, since they don’t need time in a recovery room waiting for the effects of general anesthesia to wear off. An easy recovery is especially helpful for patients who want to resume an exercise routine as quickly as possible in order to maintain their liposuction results.

The Downsides of Local Anesthesia

Local anesthesia definitely is not the right choice for everyone. For starters, it is often more uncomfortable for liposuction patients than general anesthesia, since a doctor must be very careful not to over-inject lidocaine. Given this, there is no way for a doctor to treat mid- to large-sized areas with local anesthesia alone. This means that “touch up” treatments and small areas may be appropriate, but people who want to slim down their abdomen, hips/flanks or back with liposuction will need general anesthesia to maximize safety and results.