A new technique being developed in the United Kingdom may help many patients feel safer and more secure during breast augmentation surgery. Surgeons at the Westbourne Clinic in Birmingham, UK, according to a recent Daily Mail article, are completing complicated cosmetic procedures using only a combination of sedatives and local anesthetics. Traditionally, such operations require a patient to be “put under,” or administered a general anesthesia which renders them completely unconscious.

General anesthesia has a few drawbacks. First off, about a third of patients that are put under using general anesthetics experience nausea and disorientation upon waking. While that works to deter some, the biggest scare factor is probably the horror stories that are regularly circulated about general anesthesia. Potential complications such as nerve damage, paralysis, remaining “awake” but being unable to speak, and even death cause a fear reaction in many patients that prevents them from considering operations that require being put under. The truth is that these complications occur less than once in 10,000 cases, but for some the fear still remains.

Nuala McEwan, a patient who recently underwent breast augmentation at the Westbourne Clinic, was put at ease by the fact that she wouldn’t be rendered completely unconscious.

“I had looked into having a breast enhancement but had been put off by the idea of a general anesthetic,” she said.

“When I heard that surgeons could perform the operation with a local anesthetic, not dissimilar to one used by a dentist, I knew it was what I had been looking for.”

The technique being fine tuned at the Westbourne Clinic involves administration of local anesthetic at the site of the operation, as well as the use of sedatives to help patients relax and remain motionless. Operations performed under these circumstances are entirely painless, and patients are able to remain awake — and relaxed — throughout the procedure.

Nuala was very happy with the procedure and with the results.

“I don’t know why anyone would have a general if it’s possible to have a local,” she said.

“It’s the way forward for many procedures,” said Fazel Fatah, one of the surgeons performing the operation. “Operations on the knee or other joints, nose jobs and even hernia repairs could be carried out under a local.”

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