Liposuction, Tumescent Fluid, and Anesthesia

Liposuction was first performed under general anesthesia. These early procedures resulted in extensive bleeding and bruising and lengthy recovery times. In the late 1980s, Dr. Jeffrey Klein applied a common concept in dermatology – using tumescent fluid – to liposuction. This allowed surgeons to perform liposuction using only local anesthetic, but what’s more, it also greatly reduced bleeding, bruising, and overall recovery time compared to those early procedures.

Today, liposuction patients under general anesthesia or local anesthesia both receive tumescent fluid as part of their operation. However, there are still some key differences between procedures using each type of anesthetic and what can be accomplished with each. Based on personal preference, your specific body goals, or your budget, one type of anesthesia may be better suited to you.

Real Houston Lipo Center patient results. Liposuction performed under local anesthesia. See more lipo results.

Benefits and Downsides of Liposuction Under Local Anesthesia

Liposuction under local anesthesia is performed by many surgeons both here in Houston, TX and across the globe. Its main benefits are patient peace of mind (some people don’t like the idea of “going under”), lower cost, and less risk.

Benefits of Local Anesthesia

  • Greater peace of mind – some patients find the idea of general anesthesia uncomfortable, and recovery from general anesthesia can be a disconcerting experience
  • No risk of complications associated with general anesthesia
  • It’s less expensive, since an anesthesiologist is not required
  • Traveling to a hospital or surgery center is not required
  • Surgeons generally use smaller cannulas, which results in less risk for scarring, bleeding and bruising

Downsides of Local Anesthesia

  • Performing lipo under local anesthesia may limit the size of cases or the number of areas that can be done in one procedure, both for patient comfort and due to the potential for lidocaine toxicity

Benefits and Downsides of Liposuction Under General Anesthesia

Liposuction under general anesthesia is still considered by many surgeons to be the preferred way to perform liposuction – its definitely easier for the surgeon, as they don’t have to worry about making sure the surgical area is completely numb. The main benefit for patients is that it allows for larger cases to be performed in one procedure – and of course, if being awake during surgery sounds scary to you, then general anesthesia might be preferable.

Benefits of General Anesthesia

  • You won’t feel or hear a thing! If you’d rather be asleep for your liposuction procedure, then general anesthesia is the clear choice
  • More body areas can be treated in one procedure – if you’re wanting “full body” lipo (4+ areas) performed in one procedure, you’ll need general anesthesia

Downsides of General Anesthesia

  • There are always some risks and potential complications associated with general anesthesia
  • Recovering from general anesthesia takes time and will come with the usual side effects of drowsiness and nausea immediately following the procedure
  • It’s more expensive! Having an anesthesiologist on-hand, plus the costs of a surgery center will mean there’s a big price difference
  • Surgeons often use larger cannulas during cases with general anesthesia. This requires larger incisions, and these larger cannulas have the potential to cause more bleeding and bruising, which can lengthen recovery time
Real Houston Lipo Center patient results. Liposuction performed under local anesthesia. See more lipo results.

When to Choose Local or General Anesthesia for Your Liposuction Procedure

Some surgeons may insist that general anesthesia is the only way – that simply isn’t true. If you’re only wanting one area suctioned, such as the chin, arms, or love handles, then your surgeon will likely recommend local anesthesia. For smaller cases and smaller areas (like the chin), general anesthesia simply isn’t necessary and shouldn’t be used. However, if you want a lot of areas done, then general anesthesia may be preferrable. Getting more than three areas suctioned in a single procedure may not be possible using local anesthesia – of course it all depends on the size of your case and the areas you’re treating.

Generally, this is a decision that comes down to personal preference. If you’re wanting to be asleep for the whole procedure, stick with general anesthesia! If going under sounds scary and you’d rather be awake (with a mild oral sedative), then lipo under local anesthesia is probably the right choice for you.

If you’re wanting a lot of areas done but don’t want to go under or would like to be asleep but only want a single area suctioned, then unfortunately you’re going to have to choose what’s more important for you. At the end of the day, the type of anesthesia you choose is a personal choice, but it should be an informed choice based on your goals and preferences so that you can be sure you’re comfortable throughout the process and get the results you want.

If you’re looking for liposuction in Houston TX, give Houston Lipo Center a call at 713-777-5476. We’re happy to answer your questions about liposuction.

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