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Breast Augmentation Without General Anesthesia?

How would you like to be awake while your doctor performs your breast augmentation? For some patients, this is a real option. Most of us are familiar with the concept of general anesthesia—you receive the anesthesia via IV before surgery, you essentially fall asleep, and when you wake up, the surgery is complete. For many minor surgeries, local anesthesia is a safe and widely used method. Some doctors argue, however, that even for some serious surgeries—like breast augmentation—local anesthesia is a viable alternative to general anesthesia.

Maybe you cringed at the idea of being awake during a breast augmentation, but there are several reasons that local anesthesia for breast augmentation might be appealing. First, local anesthesia carries fewer risks that general anesthesia. This is because local anesthesia only affects a specific area of the body, rather than the entire body, providing a smaller window for risk to occur. Additionally, you are awake and functioning, so other rare but serious complications of general anesthesia, such as aspiration (breathing in fluid) are extremely unlikely. Second, local anesthesia is much cheaper than general anesthesia. Third, you can have some say in the surgery as it happens—in case, say, you wanted to go bigger.

Of course, even though you might have a conversation with your doctor, you probably won’t remember any of it afterward. Individuals who have undergone breast augmentation with local anesthesia still report feeling “out of it” during surgery and don’t remember any of it after, because they are sedated for the procedure. Bearing this in mind, it’s difficult to say whether any of choices made during surgery, like opting for DDs instead of full Cs, are actually sound decisions.

Finding a surgeon who will perform a breast augmentation with local anesthesia is usually a challenge. Many doctors insist that breast augmentation is too serious a surgery to rely on local anesthesia alone. Additionally, if there are complications during surgery, most doctors want to be in complete control to address the problem as swiftly and safely as possible—not having a patient experience a panic attack or faint on top of it all. Plus, many accredited doctors are skeptical of other doctors’ motivations for doing awake breast augmentations. This is because awake surgeries can be done in offices that have not been vetted for accreditation. Many surgeons object to the term “awake” for these surgeries, as patients are heavily drugged during local anesthesia breast augmentations.

It’s not known for sure just how many doctors perform awake breast augmentations. Awake breast augmentations are a phenomenon recently coming to light, and are still widely disapproved of in the medical community. The full risks of local anesthesia during a serious surgery such as breast augmentation are also not fully known. If you are concerned about risks of general anesthesia and are considering a breast augmentation, it is important to raise your concerns with your accredited, board-certified plastic surgeon. He or she will help you put risks of all types of anesthesia in perspective.

 

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