Anesthesia 101: Here's What You Need to Know Before Any Procedure

When it comes to surgery, the thought of having anesthesia administered could be just as scary to some as the actual procedure itself. And for some, there’s reason to be nervous about getting anesthesia of any kind.

The type of procedure you’re having done really determines what type of anesthesia you will receive. There are several different types and each serves its own purpose.

For less-invasive procedures—think fillers and nonablative lasers, as well as most dental procedures—local anesthesia, which comes in the form of either a topical numbing cream or an injectable, is the go-to. Creams are usually administered 20 to 30 minutes before the treatment, whereas injections go to work in minutes. But both numb just the area that will be worked on and wear off relatively fast with no nausea or side effects (although your skin could potentially be slightly dry or irritated).

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A step stronger than local anesthesia is local anesthesia with IV or oral sedation, which is commonly known as "twilight." First, the local anesthesia is administered, followed by a nerve block or sedative. Procedures like liposuction and blepharoplasty typically use this type of anesthesia, which will leave you feeling tired and somewhat nauseous once it wears off (it also lasts for a longer period of time than just a local alone).

When larger parts of the body are operated on, like the face or body, general anesthesia is used, which is inhaled to temporarily block any pain that could be felt. It lasts the longest and can take hours, or for some people a day or so, for it completely wear off, leaving you feeling shaky and nauseous and with a dry throat and dry, itchy skin.

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