IV Sedation or General Anesthesia for Liposuction and Fat Transfer?

Which is advisable: IV sedation or general anesthesia for Liposuction with Fat transfer to the buttocks. The estimated length of the procedure is 3 hours with an anesthesiologist.

Doctor Answers 9

IV sedation vs General anesthetic

IV sedation can be very ight or deeper, usually performed with an anesthesioogist for greater safety.
Beyond the excellent safety concerns about having a half asleep patient on their stomach, patient tolerance for discomfort and awareness of the surgery are important. For a larger case (and for many patients even for a smaller one), do you really want to be awake and experience the surgery?

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

Don't be scared of general anesthesia

Don't be scared of general anesthesia. General anesthesia actually give the anesthesiologist the most control over your body, which can lead to a smoother surgery. However, in many cases IV sedation is appropriate as well. The anesthesia decision should be made between you, your surgeon and your anesthesiologist. Good luck with your surgery.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

IV sedation vs local anesthesia

IV sedation versus local anesthesia always comes up in conversation with patients. It is a matter of comfort. I think both are safe, but I think in most cases patients are more comfortable with IV sedation. If the patient is more comfortable, then so is the surgeon performing the procedure. This may lead to better results as well.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Anesthesia and Plastic Surgery

I'm a big fan of IV sedation because of the easier recovery, but being in the prone position (face down) is risky for just sedation because your airway may not be safe.  Therefore, I would highly recommend general anesthesia for your procedure.  Good luck!

We would recommend general anesthesia, because you are face down.


Either type of anesthesia is safe, and it depends a lot on the experience of the individual anesthesiologist.  But in New York, we think it is easier to control your airway with general anesthesia for liposuction and fat injections, because you will be face down for several hours.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Either approach can work well

Either general anesthesia or IV sedation can work well- it really depends on the experience and preference of your surgeon and anesthesia team. In general, most folks prefer a general anesthetic for longer procedures, but there is no hard and fast rule.

Talk to your surgeon about any concerns you may have, and in most cases, the surgeon can perform the procedure with either type of anesthesia.

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 149 reviews

IV sedation vs.general anesthesia for liposuction and autofat transfer.

In my experience,since 1984, I prefer general anesthesia for longer proceedures like yours for the following reasons: 1. blood pressure control 2. ease of positioning 3.patient comfort 4.it allows me to be as aggressive as need be.

Patients need to be honest with themselves as to whether they are uoto local and iv sedation.

Barry H. Dolich, MD (Retired)
Bronx Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

No rigid rules for selecting IV or general anesthesia.

For procedures lasting 1-2 hours, IV sedation is an acceptable alternative.

For a procedure lasting 3 hours, I often recommend general anesthesia because it is often difficult for a patient to remain comfortable for that period of time.

However, this varies tremendously among surgeons and depending on the extent of the procedure and the patient tolerance, these are not rigid rules.

If an individual is having liposuction of less sensitive areas and has a history of adverse reactions to general anesthesia, I would consider IV sedation.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Depends on your surgeon and your anesthesiologist

Dear Itecdh

The safest form of liposuction is pure tumescent liposuction.

The key is dilute local anesthetic that is slowly infiltrated into the tissue. Then tiny cannulas are used to remove the fat. Fat transfer can be performed in exactly the same way with great results. However, this procedure is time consuming. The same liposuction that can be done in 45 minutes under general anesthesia could take about 3 hours to perform under local simply because doing the procedure more slowly makes it more comfortable.

This means in a single day performing tumescent liposuction, a surgeon will do two cases. Under general anesthesia, 5 cases can be done in the same time. This creates a huge financial incentive to perform liposuction under general anesthesia. However, the rate of death from liposuction is about 1 in 5000 cases when it is performed under general anesthesia. Compare this to the much lower mortality of liposuction performed under local which is estimated at about 1 in 500,000 cases. This is why I stopped performing liposuction under general anesthesia.

In looking at IV sedation versus general anesthesia, it is unclear from existing studies whether IVsedation is safer than general anesthesia for liposuction. What is clear is that the act of intubation is stressful and causes a catecholamine release. These are the chemicals responsible for the fight or flight response. The stress created by these drugs at the time of intubation for general anesthesia is measurable even two years later in the form of an increase rate of mortality.

So, is general anesthesia safer than IV sedation? This is a more difficult question. IV sedation is much more difficult to perform than general anesthesia. Patients can be placed on auto pilot with an anesthesia machine reducing the opportunity for errors in human judgement. IV sedation requires constant vigilance on the part of the anesthesiologist. However, I believe that almost any cosmetic procedure can be done better with a great IV sedation. The key is to recognize that a great IV sedation is an art form.

If your anesthesiologist has ADD or needs to read the Wall Street Journal or Twitter during your surgery, you are probably safer having a general anesthesia by such a character.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 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.