Can a Tummy Tuck Surgery Be Done with Local Anesthesia?

I am 34 years old. I am 5'6" and 140 pounds. I had two c-sections and have loose skin on my stomach. I would like to have surgery, but I don't want to be asleep.

Can a tummy tuck surgery be done with local anesthesia? If not, is there any other surgery that only requires local anesthesia that can get rid of the loose skin and give me a flat, sexy stomach?

Doctor Answers 30

Yes, Local anesthesia works well for tummy tucks!

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Most surgeons were not trained in how to perform a full tummy tuck under local anaesthesia.  It works well in the right patient.  The muscle can easily be tightened also with local anaesthesia.  I have performed this without spinals, inhalational gases or heavy sedation.  

Nasim Huq, MD

Niagara Falls Plastic Surgeon
3.7 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Tummy tuck without general anesthesia

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I know I am in the minority on this but I prefer local anesthesia with IV sedation for a full tummy tuck.  I am a board certified plastic surgeon, I use only board certified anesthesiologists to administer sedation. 

I spent the early part of my career doing every tummy tuck with general anesthesia.  At the time, I would have believed anyone doing this procedure without a general anesthesia must be compromising on muscle or skin tightening.  Having done this procedure safely and effectively with local and IV sedation for the past 5 years, I can assure you this is not the case.  

We run the sedation pretty deep and I would not feel comfortable doing this procedure without it.

Watch the video for a basic demonstration

York Yates, MD.   Utah.

York Jay Yates, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 189 reviews

Tummy Tuck and Anesthesia

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Tummy tuck could be done with just local anesthetic, but I'd advise against it.

Your comfort will be much greater with intravewnous sedation or general anesthesia.

If you are uncomfortable during surgery, because you chose local asnesthetic only, your surgeon may not be able to do as good a job.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Can't tighten the muscles under local anesthesia

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One of the benefits of general anesthesia (being asleep) for a tummy tuck is that muscles can be fully relaxed, which allows for more tightening during the surgery. I would not perform a tummy tuck under local anesthesia.  General anesthesia is very safe. 

Carmen Kavali, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Best Anesthesia for a Tummy Tuck

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Before picking the tools - we need to define the job.

If all we need to do is take a little loose skin from the lower tummy without repairing muscle or moving the belly button higher , the procedure CAN be done under local or tumescent anesthesia.

While I respect your reluctance "to be asleep", let's consider the job that needs to be done in you IF you are to have a chance at a good result. Two full term pregnancies have not only resulted in loose tummy skin but have certainly distended and separated your tummy muscles as well. Failure to tighten your muscles properly would rob you of the flat tummy a properly done tummy tuck can offer.

In my opinion, the tightest and flattest tummies can ONLY be done when you are under general anesthesia because they allow the surgeon to operate on relaxed muscles. While doing it on an "awake" individual (not really since you will be sedated...) will NOT physically allow this degree of movement and tightening.

I am a firm believer of putting myself in my patients' place. Were I to operate on my own wife, I would insist on doing a Tummy Tuck under general - NOT local/twilight/IV sedation anesthesia.

Dr. P. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Best improvements with general anesthesia

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Small procedures can be performed on the abdomen under local anesthesia. A traditional abdominoplasty is a large procedure—the dissection is wide, and the tissues are quite sensitive. Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck under general anesthesia (going completely under) provides the time needed to accomplish the most improvement.

James Green, MD
Santa Fe Plastic Surgeon

General Anesthesia for Tummy Tuck Surgery

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                  Although abdominoplasty can be performed under local anesthesia, the vast majority of plastic surgeons prefer general anesthesia when performing this procedure.  They feel that general anesthesia offers significant advantages compared to local anesthesia.

                   The procedure is more comfortable and avoids break through pain which can occasionally occur with local anesthesia alone.  When general anesthesia is utilized procedures can be more extensive and this can potentially improve the surgical result.

 It’s important to realize that all surgical procedures and anesthetic techniques have risks.  This is true whether local anesthesia or general anesthesia are utilized.  Most Surgeons who perform abdominoplasty agree that the anesthetic technique utilized is less important than the use of a certified operating room and the presence of an anesthesiologist.  In other words you don’t want your surgeon to be your anesthesiologist.

Can a Tummy Tuck Surgery Be Done with Local Anesthesia

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Abdominoplasty is best done under general anesthesia so that the details of the procedure can be accomplished without movement of the patient. I don’t think local anesthesia can adequately anesthetize a patient to relieve the pain of the procedure.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 118 reviews

Safety First

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This is elective cosmetic surgery.   The goal should be to minimize your risk of complications and deliver the safest and most natural result possible.     Trying to perform a full tummy tuck under local anesthesia is simply too risky and a very unsafe procedure.  I would recommend performing this procedure safely under general anesthesia, which carries a very low risk profile with an appropriate surgical workup.    Please don't try to take short cuts that could jeopardize your health, safety, and your final result.

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Tummy Tuck under local anesthesia

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It sounds as if you would require a full tummy tuck and I generally do not advise these under local anesthesia. However, you could undergo a regional. Discuss the options with your surgeon AND anesthesiologist.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.