Local Anesthesia

Search Knowledgebase

Topic Contents

Local Anesthesia

Topic Overview

Local anesthesia uses medicine to block sensations of pain from a specific area of the body. Local anesthetics are usually given by injection into the body area that needs to be anesthetized. They are not injected into the bloodstream (intravenous, IV).

Local anesthetics may be given with other medicines that make you relaxed or sleepy (sedatives). These other medicines are often given by IV.

Local anesthesia is most often used when:

  • You do not have a high level of anxiety and apprehension. If you have local anesthesia without sedation, you need to be able to lie still and remain calm during the surgery, although you may also be given medicine to help you relax.
  • A surgery can be performed in a short time and you will go home soon after.
  • A surgery does not require unconsciousness or extreme muscle relaxation.

Less commonly, local anesthesia may be applied directly to the skin or mucous membranes as a cream or ointment. This is called topical anesthesia. Topical local anesthesia is used for very minor procedures on the surface of the skin.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John M. Freedman, MD, MD - Anesthesiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer C. Dale Mercer, MD, FRCSC, FACS - General Surgery
Last Revised April 14, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.