Liposuction‚ Local vs. General Anesthesia

Dr. Pittluck - Local Anesthesia Liposuction

Liposuction is currently the second most popular cosmetic treatment nationwide, and it’s not hard to understand why. The procedure is highly effective and versatile, often used to treat multiple different areas of the body. However, while it can help reduce stubborn pockets of fat, it is important to remember that liposuction is NOT a weight loss procedure. Your surgeon may use liposuction to correct and enhance your body’s shape and contour, but only in areas that are not affected by diet and exercise.

Once you’ve reached or gotten close to your goal weight, you can begin taking steps to schedule liposuction surgery. Anesthesia is a requirement to ensure you are comfortable and safe during the procedure. There are two options for anesthesia during liposuction surgery: a local anesthetic and general anesthetic.

1. Can Liposuction be done under local anesthesia? What are the benefits?

Liposuction is ideal for people who have reached their target weight and want to eliminate unwanted fat in problematic areas. Results of surgery usually include a slimmer, more contoured profile and a more flattering overall physique. Liposuction surgery is performed under general anesthesia. However, if you aren’t comfortable with the idea of being ‘put to sleep’ and have a smaller treatment area, local anesthesia may be a viable option. 

Typically, our surgeons only perform liposuction under local anesthesia in correctional cases. Since you will be awake during the procedure, local anesthesia has limitations, and it will not be the best choice for everyone. Ultimately, your surgeon will help you decide which type of anesthesia is best for you. Major pros and cons of local anesthesia include:


  • Local anesthesia will not cause nausea or other general anesthesia-related side effects.
  • Local anesthesia typically results in a quicker recovery time than general anesthesia.
  • Local anesthesia may help ease anesthesia-related anxiety, including fear of side effects from general anesthesia.
  • With local anesthesia, you can eat a light meal before your procedure. So, you can start your day in a state of comfort and avoid the typical ‘anesthesia hangover.’ 


  • Local anesthesia is best for smaller treatment areas due to limitations in the amount of medicine that can be used. Larger areas may require several treatments to see noticeable results. 
  • Local anesthesia is not for everyone. In many cases, IV sedation or a light general anesthetic is more appropriate.

2. Why should you NOT be afraid of general anesthesia?

Thanks to the many advances in both technology and medication, anesthesia is very safe. Today, there is only one anesthesia-related death in every 200,000 cases, making it extremely rare. At The South Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery, our surgeons perform all surgical treatments alongside an experienced anesthesiologist to ensure patient safety throughout the procedure. 

Side effects of general anesthesia are also relatively minor. You will likely feel groggy and have impaired judgment immediately after surgery, so you will need to arrange for someone to pick you up and drive you home. However, while it is common to experience nausea, a sore throat, or mild pain and discomfort after surgery, most anesthesia wears off fairly quickly.

3. Why is general anesthesia better for liposuction?

Some people have a specific fear of going to sleep for surgery, but for most people, the fear comes from the procedure itself, not from the anesthesia. Many patients are simply afraid of any kind of procedure, even minimally invasive treatments, such as blood drawing and routine dental work. In these cases, general anesthesia is frequently the better option. 

Local anesthesia can be somewhat painful and is not a great choice to keep patients comfortable and relaxed. General anesthesia allows you not to feel any pain nor remember any details of the surgery. 

4. When is local anesthesia not enough?

Liposuction with local anesthesia, also called ‘awake liposuction,’ does have its advantages, but it is certainly not for everyone. Although liposuction is not meant for weight loss, many people still undergo plastic surgery, hoping to achieve dramatic results. More extensive treatment areas require a surgeon to use slightly more aggressive techniques for fat extraction. As a result, general anesthesia is essential to keep the patient comfortable.

5. The truth about liposuction.

Liposuction is a relatively straightforward procedure. However, scheduling your treatment with an inexperienced surgeon or anesthesiologist could lead to an increased risk of complications and life-threatening side effects. Liposuction deaths mainly occur when a surgeon removes more than the acceptable amount of fat (large-volume liposuction) or combines unrelated procedures into one surgery. 

Before you schedule liposuction surgery, make sure the facility you choose has an outstanding safety record and highly skilled plastic surgeons. Our board-certified plastic surgeons strictly follow plastic surgery safety regulations and perform all liposuction procedures in our premier medical center. Our in-house team also includes a professional M.D. anesthesiologist to oversee general anesthesia for all surgical procedures.

At The South Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery, our team is committed to providing you with safe and effective treatment. If you’re interested in liposuction surgery, contact us today for an in-person or Virtual Consultation.

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