Anesthesia and Cosmetic Surgery

When a patient elects to undergo cosmetic plastic surgery, they are likely to have anesthesia used during their procedure. As such, an informed patient should clearly understand the differences in anesthesia types and providers. The anesthesiologist is ultimately responsible for reviewing the patient’s medical condition and history to plan the appropriate anesthetic for surgery, and is thus quite important when making decisions regarding cosmetic procedures.

In cosmetic plastic surgery procedures three primary types of anesthesia are used. Local anesthesia, regional anesthesia, or general anesthesia is used in all cosmetic plastic surgery procedures.

Local anesthesia

is injected by your plastic surgeon, and is used to temporarily stop the sense of pain in a particular area of the body. The patient is fully alert and conscious during a local anesthetic procedure.

Regional anesthesia

is used by your plastic surgeon when local anesthesia will simply not penetrate the dermis deeply enough, or disperse over a large enough area to numb the entire surgical site. Usually local anesthetic is injected by the surgeon in the area of nerves that provide feeling to that part of the body. This is also commonly referred to as a nerve block.

General anesthesia

causes the patient to be unconscious during their cosmetic plastic surgery procedure. The anesthetic used in general anesthesia is either inhaled through a breathing mask, or administered through an intravenous line. Intravenous delivery is the most common for of general anesthesia used in cosmetic surgery procedures. During general anesthesia, a breathing tube is often inserted into the windpipe to maintain a proper airway and adequate breathing during the surgical procedure. Once the surgery is complete, the anesthesiologist discontinues delivery of the anesthetic and the patient wakes up in the recovery room.

There are two types of general anesthesia providers used in cosmetic surgery centers. The first is a CRNA or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, and the second is an anesthesiologist. While both practitioners are perfectly acceptable for any cosmetic procedure, there are a few major differences between the two types of anesthesia providers.

An anesthesiologist

is actually physician whom just like your surgeon, has undergone medical school training for four years along with an additional four-year residency in anesthesia. There are also actually board certified anesthesiologists who have additionally passed a 3-part written test and a 2-part oral examination on the practice of anesthesiology. You can expect to pay $1,100 – $1,500 per hour for their services in the typical cosmetic procedure.


is actually registered nurse who most often has obtained a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and then goes on to obtain a master’s degree in the administration of anesthesia. Most nurse anesthetists have practiced in a critical care setting as a nurse for years prior to completion of their master’s degree. With over 37,000 CRNA’s in the United States, CRNAs provide anesthesia in the majority of all cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. You can expect a CRNA to charge $500 – $900 per hour for their services in the typical cosmetic surgery procedure.