Anaesthetic (local)

Local anaesthetic numbs a small part of your body. It is used when the nerves can be easily reached by drops, sprays, ointments or injections. You remain conscious whilst being free from pain.

What is an anaesthetic (local)?

The word anaesthesia means ‘loss of sensation’. A local anaesthetic is a medication that temporarily numbs a specific area of your body. Numbing usually occurs within minutes and may last for a few hours. A local anaesthetic stops the transmission of pain signals from your nerves in the affected part of your body.

Local anaesthetic can be used to treat a painful condition, prevent pain during a minor procedure or operation, or relieve pain after surgery.

Compared to a general anaesthetic, you will be awake after a local anaesthetic. You will feel no pain, but you may still sense pressure or movement. A local anaesthetic is generally safer, doesn’t need special preparation before use, and you recover from it faster.

Many people having a local anaesthetic do not want to be awake for surgery and choose to have sedation as well.

What are the types of local anaesthetic?

There are three main types of local anaesthetic:

  • Topical anaesthesia – put on your skin, it comes in the form of gel, cream, drops, ointment or spray. Examples of their use include pain-easing cream or gel for haemorrhoids and mouth ulcers or eye drops before eye surgery.
  • Local anaesthetic injections – local anaesthesia is injected just under your skin. They are mainly used for relatively minor procedures. For example, skin surgery, cataract removal, a filling or wisdom tooth removal, or a biopsy.
  • Regional anaesthesia – local anaesthesia is injected near a nerve to numb a large area or an area deep inside your body. Types of regional anaesthesia include:
  • Spinal anaesthesia – a single injection into the spine to numb your legs and lower back. It may be used for some types of surgery such as a hip replacement.
  • Epidural anaesthesia – injected into the epidural space around your spinal cord. It provides chronic pain relief in your back, neck, arm and leg. It is also often used during labour and caesarean sections whereby a small tube allows you to top up the anaesthetic as needed to ease your pain.
  • Nerve block – injected at a specific nerve root, where the nerve exits your spinal column. It targets a specific nerve and aims decrease your pain in a certain part of your body during and after surgery.
  • Is anaesthetic a drug?

    Yes, anaesthetic is a drug. It is used to induce a temporary loss of sensation in the area it targets.

    How long does anaesthetic stay in the body?

    Anaesthetic can stay in your system for up to 24 hours.

    A local anaesthetic can stay in your body up to 18 hours after being administered. Some local anaesthetics last longer than others. The exact drug used and how much is given will determine how long the effects of your local anaesthetic last.

    Local anaesthetic creams may work for up to 90 minutes. A local anaesthetic injection can make you numb up to three hours. A spinal anaesthetic may last for around two hours. With an epidural, numbness can last for a few hours to a day, depending on how much medicine you had and when you last topped up. If you have a nerve block, the area may stay numb for several hours.

    Whilst the anesthetised area is still numb you should protect it from injury. You will feel tingling as your feeling returns and then you might feel the pain of the operation. Before an operation, your anaesthetist will discuss with you your pain relief options afterwards.

    What is the recovery process after an anaesthetic

    You should wait for the effects of your local anaesthetic to wear off before returning to work or your regular activities. If you’ve had a local anaesthetic, you can expect this to be the same day as your treatment.

    If you have a sedation with your local anaesthetic, the effects can take up to 24 hours to wear off. You should not make any important decisions, return to work, look after dependants, drive, cook or operate any machinery during the first 24 hours. You should not take any alcohol or sleeping tablets for 24 hours after having sedation. It may also make you unsteady on your feet so extra care is required.

    What is the cost of an anaesthetic

    The cost of an anaesthetic will depend on your exact type of anaesthetic and your Ramsay hospital of choice.

    You will receive a formal quotation price for your required surgery and the associated anaesthetic costs, after a consultation with one of our expert surgeons. This formal quote will be valid for 60 days. You can rest-assured that it includes unlimited aftercare.

    We have a number of finance options if you are paying for your surgery and anaesthesia yourself. These include:

    • Interest-free finance - no deposit required and 0% interest monthly instalments.
    • All-inclusive Total Care - a one-off payment for all the treatment you need at a pre-agreed price. Our Total care packages include your operating drugs.
    • Pay as you go – a flexible funding option if your treatment costs are difficult to assess or you want to pay for your treatment costs as and when they arise.
    • Anaesthetic is typically covered by health insurance for medically necessary procedures. We advise that you obtain written confirmation from your insurance provider prior to starting your treatment.

    Anaesthetic at Ramsay Health Care

    At Ramsay Health Care, our experienced and knowledgeable Consultant Anaesthetists will discuss your anaesthetic pain relief options with you before your treatment. They will listen to your preferences and make an anaesthetic plan based on your healthcare needs.

    You can rest-assured that our All-inclusive Total Care packages are inclusive of your operating drugs.

    All of our hospitals adhere to strict protocols to minimise the risk of infection, including Covid-19.  

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