Aesthetic Surgical Images
M. Kirk Moore, MD
Thomas E. Geraghty

Home > Article Categories > Plastic Surgery Information > The Advantage and Disadvantage of Awake Cosmetic Surgery

The Advantage and Disadvantage of Awake Cosmetic Surgery

Initially this may sound cool: you stay awake throughout the cosmetic surgery, you can chat with your surgeon and, in a way, take part in the procedure. You stay clear from the effects?and the cost?of general anesthesia. Sounds enticing, right?

As a matter of fact, more and more doctors are getting alarmed at the arising trend of what?s called ?Awake cosmetic surgery.? In an MSNBC article last month, the top dog of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)?the association behind the ?board certification? that means at least two years of specific plastic surgery training?showed his concern. Dr. Michael F. McGuire admonished that ?Awake? cosmetic surgery is part of what he dubbed an escalating problem of ?amateurism? in the field.

Practitioners would make you believe that Awake cosmetic surgery is tailored to benefit the patient. Surely, general anesthesia, the method applied by most plastic surgeons for most operations, has its disadvantages. It poses certain risks, such as the risk of blood clots (stemming from patient immobility) and post-op nausea. Recuperating from the results of general anesthesia takes longer than recuperating from lighter sedation, and it?s more expensive.

However, the risks of the Awake procedures are potentially even more dangerous according to the MSNBC article, and to many board certified plastic surgeons. For example, McGuire noticed that the quantity of lidocaine, a local anesthetic, necessary for Awake breast augmentation, can reach toxic levels. Plus, since the drug is consumed slowly by fat cells, these levels can be highest after the patient is asked to go home.

Several Awake surgeons even offer tummy tuck surgical procedure minus general anesthesia. McGuire had this to say, ?It?s inconceivable that anyone would do such a major procedure under anything less than a light general anesthesia.? He stated that abdominal surgery is some of the most invasive of all cosmetic surgery choices and presents various risks.

One other disapproval of ?Awake? cosmetic surgery is that patients can undergo a great deal of inconvenience.

In the MSNBC article, the patient profiled narrated she screamed during the procedure and came out of surgery ?dazed and sobbing.? With the absence of an anesthesiologist, whenever a patient feels excruciating pain the only choices available to the doctor are to discontinue the surgical procedure or forge ahead.

?Awake? surgeons reply that it?s an advantage that patients can interact with them throughout the procedure and make decisions, however the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery compares this chance to ?making a decision while you are drunk.?

Most distressful of all, Awake practitioners are more often than not non-board certified plastic surgeons. According to MSNBC, any physician who?s determined to attend a two-day training course and shell out a few thousand dollars can learn the method. The chance to include cosmetic surgery to their repertoire, without having to include an anesthesiologist or authorized surgical suite, attracts family practitioners, OB/GYNs and other doctors.

If you?re searching alternatives for body contouring and run into a practitioner proffering Awake cosmetic surgery, be prepared for an aggressive sales pitch and an appealing price. Make sure to consider this: do you want to experience what could be a very unmanageable procedure and trust your looks?and your dear life?to a doctor educated just over a weekend?

Plastic Surgery Information at

Permission is granted to reproduce this article as long as the above resource paragraph is left in tact with active links.


Find a Plastic Surgeon

Buckhead Plastic Surgery
Specialists in Plastic Surgery North Carolina
Tom Haas, M.D.