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Monday Myth’s: Local Anesthesia is Safer than General

August 30th, 2010

Surgery is done by many medical subspecialties. Some of these are surgical specialties like plastic surgery, ENT surgery, and gynecology. Most of these surgeons have privileges in hospitals and out patient facilities called surgi-centers. They generally perform all types of anesthesia including local, sedation and general and the safest and most comfortable anesthesia is selected, based on the surgical task at hand.

It is important to select a physician that has surgical privileges at a hospital for the procedure that you are having, as it often serves as a level of assurance that are judged capable by that hospital.

“Local anesthesia is safer than general anesthesia.”   Understand that all anesthesia presents some risk.  For the simplest of surgeries (mole excision, eyelid surgery, hair transplant), local anesthesia is safe and works very well.   However, as surgeries become more complex and involving larger areas (liposuction, tummy tucks), the amount of local anesthesia necessary for patient comfort increases to the point where toxicity is a risk.  In these situations, local anesthesia can be more dangerous than general anesthesia.

Finally, when general anesthetic or IV sedation is used, your well-being will be carefully monitored by a nurse anesthetist and/or an anesthesiologist.  This added “pair of eyes and ears” goes a long way in ensuring your safety.   It is also important to understand the accreditation of both the facility and the physician.  There are several websites to check this status for physicians such as, The American Board of Medical Specialties.  Surgi-centers or ambulatory surgery centers (ASC), sometimes called outpatient surgery centers or same day surgery centers are also certified.  The three main accreditors of ASC facilities are American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (Accreditation Association or AAAHC) and The Joint Commission.

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