Do I need a general anesthesia for my facelift or neck lift?

One of the most common questions asked by patients during a facelift or neck lift consultation is whether they will have to undergo a general anesthetic for the procedure.  The answer is often no.

Before I go on I think it would be helpful to explain what a general anesthetic is and compare it to the typical anesthesia used for my face or neck lift procedures.  In short, general anesthesia is a very safe form of anesthesia where the patient is brought to a certain, controlled level of unconsciousness where their airway is protected with a soft plastic tube.  Sometimes the anesthesiologist will assist you in breathing and other times you will breathe on your own.  The level of “sleep” you are in allows sounds, smells, and time to go by completely unnoticed.  That’s why when you wake up from a general anesthetic you feel like you just went to sleep, while hours may have passed.

In contrast, most lower face and neck lifts are performed using IV sedation, often termed twilight or conscious sedation.  Here, the level of sedation is much less than a general anesthesia; however, you may remember sounds or have a sense of time; that is, you may have a sense of how long you have been undergoing the procedure.  However, most people do not remember much.  The incidence of nausea and feeling tired after the procedure are typically less with this form of anesthesia.

However, there are times when a general anesthetic may be in your best interest, and this is determined during your consultation.   Patients with chronic neck or back pain, medical health issues, and those having multiple procedures performed would be better served having a general anesthesia.   The accredited surgery center in our Aliso Viejo office has the capacity to do both types of anesthesia and also has an overnight suite nearby to aid in your recovery.  Incidentally, most eyelid surgeries and brow lifting procedures are performed using IV sedation.

To learn more about what type of anesthesia would be best for you, a consultation is recommended.

Timothy R. Miller, M.D.

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