Ask Dr. K: The Truths and Myths of Anesthesia

Dear Patients and Friends, 

One of the most important topics I discuss during a consultation is anesthesia. Many misunderstandings exist and I want clear up the truths and myths about the use of anesthesia.

What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia controls pain during surgery. To keep you comfortable and relaxed, medicines are used. Along with anesthesia, close monitoring is used to control breathing, blood pressure, blood flow, and heart rate and rhythm.

What are the different types of anesthesia?

Local anesthesia numbs a small part of the body. You get an injection of the anesthetic directly into the surgical area to block pain. Local anesthesia is used only for minor procedures. Regional anesthesia blocks pain to a larger part of your body. Anesthetic is injected around major nerves or the spinal cord. Major types of regional anesthesia include:

  • Peripheral nerve blocks: An injection of anesthetic near a specific nerve or group of nerves. It blocks pain in the part of the body supplied by the nerve. Nerve blocks are most often used for procedures on the hands, arms, feet, legs or face.
  • Epidural and spinal anesthesia: An injection of anesthetic near the spinal cord and the nerves that connect to it. It blocks pain for an entire region of the body, such as the belly, hips or legs.
  • General anesthesia: Affects the brain as well as the entire body. You may receive it through a vein (intravenously, or IV), or you may breathe it in. With general anesthesia, you do not feel pain during the surgery. It causes you to forget the surgery and the time right after it.

There are several benefits to have anesthesia with regards to cosmetic surgery:

o   With facial or body surgery, anesthesia relaxes, relieves pain and keeps the patient comfortable and still during surgery. Any movements could potentially harm the patient and complicate the surgery, such as contamination of the sterile field or nerve injury.

o   With liposuction, fat is removed more effectively using general anesthesia rather than local technique. Less of the local numbing agent (tumescent) is required resulting in more fat removed. Under general anesthesia, the end result is a more precise contour, and a pleased patient.

o   I perform very few procedures with a paralyzing agent and when I do, it is a very small amount. The paralyzing agent is given for a short duration of the surgery when muscle relaxation is important, such as breast augmentation or tummy tuck.

What determines the type of anesthesia used?

The type of anesthesia used depends on several things:

  • The reason for your surgery and the type of surgery.
  • Your past and current health.
  • The doctor will consider other surgeries you have had and any health problems you may have such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes.
  • The results of tests, such as blood tests or an electrocardiogram (EKG).

I am happy to answer any more questions on this topic, or if you would like to talk to me about my anesthesiologists, or meet with them to discuss any further curiosities or concerns, we are happy to accommodate that.


Dr. K


436 N. Bedford Dr. Suite 301 Beverly Hills, Ca 90210


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