Is it safe to get a facelift under local anesthesia?

Doctor Answers 40

Multiple anesthesia techniques are available

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Receiving a facelift under local anesthesia can be a safe and effective way to undergo this procedure.  When you are looking for a facelift surgeon, you should discuss the different anesthesia types available and choose one that meets your personal needs and goals.  Most surgeons will have an anesthesiologist available during your surgery and a frank discussion with them can help you determine your comfort needs during this procedure.

Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Facelift under local

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Yes, it is safe to get a facelift under local anesthesia.  However, doing so often limits the surgery so, operations under local are usually shorter and simpler than those done under general anesthesia.  If you are looking for a more complete/thorough correction, a full facelift with adjunctive procedures may be better and general anesthesia may be more appropriate.  However, many mini facelifts, or simple skin lifts or mini smas lifts are done under local and are quite safe.

Best wishes,

Christopher C. Chang, MD

Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia

Christopher C. Chang, MD
Washington DC Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

It Is Safe to Have a Facelift Under Local Anesthesia

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A traditional rhytidectomy, or facelift, is can be performed under general anesthesia or local anesthesia.  This is a complex surgery that comprises many steps, such as:

  • Removing excess fat from the chin

  • Performing a platysmaplasty, which removes neck bands and tightens the neck

  • Lifting the SMAS upward and outward

  • Removing excess skin

  • Replacing or moving the fat to restore volume in the midface

A full facelift will take several hours to perform, but will give you the most dramatic and long-lasting results, turning back the clock about 10 years. The rejuvenating effects should last another eight to 10 years. It depends on the patient’s personality and how long the procedure will take to decided what type of anesthesia is best.  Generally, a full facelift on a patient with a heavy neck will require general anesthesia because it takes a while to perform.  Patients needing less aggressive surgery with early aging are better candidates for local anesthesia.  It's very important to find a facial plastic surgeon with expertise in facial aesthetics and anatomy to get the best results. I hope this helps.

Local Anesthetic Is Sufficient in Many Cases

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Yes. Any facelift that involves elevation of the jowls (SMAS), tightening of the neck bands, and removal of excess skin can be aggressively performed under local anesthetic. If you are interested in a more aggressive lift, such as a “midface” lift or “composite” lift, then those should be performed under general anesthesia. Most physicians perform a version of the SMAS lift, and these can be very easily performed with a local anesthetic. Most of the immediate postoperative complications associated with this operation are the result of general anesthesia or sedation. Bleeding is usually increased, and nausea is a common postoperative problem. When the procedure is done with a local anesthetic (mild oral sedation can be added), the procedure is done more efficiently and recovery is much smoother. Patients can go home immediately afterwards, and they don’t have the untoward effects of general anesthesia. With the right surgeon, you can get the same result under local anesthesia as you would under general anesthesia. 

Is it safe to get a facelift under local anesthesia

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All surgical #procedures carry some degree of #risk. The suitability of your procedures and any specific risks may be determined during you #consultation. However, based on this evaluation, your board certified plastic surgeons will create a custom surgical plan, detailing specific techniques and recommendations to meet your goals. If you are not a #candidate, your surgeon can make other suggestions to address your concerns and objectives Also, another element to a #satisfying result of your procedures are realistic #expectations.

Lite-lift™ is a modified facelift that can be performed in the office with a local anesthetic and improve signs of aging around the neck, jawbone and lower face. These procedures are not "Thread-lifts" or "String-lifts". We do not use the "barbed" sutures employed in these other lifting operations. The Lite-lift™ uses longer lasting techniques that are discussed below. Because the incisions are limited, there is less bruising, swelling and healing time for most patients. Many patients can be back to work in one to two weeks looking rested and more youthful.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews


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Thank you for your question. Many cosmetic surgeries can be done under different forms of sedation. This can include twilight sedation, local anesthetic or even just a topical numbing agent, but it depends on the procedure. Keep in mind that the goal is to ensure your safety at all times and to be certain that you are comfortable during your procedure. I suggest that you consult with a board certified facial plastic surgeon to learn more about the procedure. 

Best wishes,

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 124 reviews

Yes, it is perfectly safe.

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A facelift under local anesthesia is fairly common and quite safe. It's also the way I prefer to perform a facelift at my practice. Compared to an approach that places the patient under general anesthesia, it has some advantages. There is less bleeding during surgery, which also leads to less bruising afterward and a more rapid recovery. Local anesthetic also enables the surgeon to keep the overall cost of the procedure lower. Still, it ultimately comes down to what you are comfortable with. I recommend raising your anesthesia concerns during a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon.


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Dear Needaliftnow,

It is safe to get a facelift under local anaesthesia with a board certified or suitably trained plastic surgeon.  The option to get the surgery done under local anaesthesia does depend to some degree on the extent surgery planned and the exact technical details that are planned by the surgeon.  In my practice we generally perform a light general anaesthetic as very frequently eyelid surgery, fat transfer and other surgeries are done at the same time. 


Dr Nettle

Facelift under local anesthesia

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It is generally safe to undergo a mini facelift under local anesthesia. However, a traditional facelift should be done under general anesthesia to ensure patient safety. It is often difficult for the patient to lay comfortably on a surgical gurney for 3-4 hours.  The longer and more complicated the procedure is, the more likely general anesthesia will need to be used. If you are considering a facelift, consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon will give you the opportunity to discuss your facelift options and decide which degree of facelift will benefit you.

All the best,

Dr. Jonathan Berman

Jonathan Berman, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Facelift under local anesthesia

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Thank you for your question. It is possible to perform a facelift (from simple to deep plane) under local anesthesia. Usually there is a component of oral or light IV anesthesia. Without any sedation, it is still possible but becomes more challenging for the patient to sit still for that period of time. The local anesthetic injections can be uncomfortable and the positioning can cause some back pain if the procedure goes past 2-3 hours. So yes it is possible but for the appropriately selected patient. Good luck.

Jeffrey Jumaily, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 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.