Most cosmetic surgery procedures we offer in our clinic can be performed under either local or intravenous (IV) sedation. However, sometimes patients prefer the latter. Typically, in our clinic, patients elect to have IV sedation for procedures such as liposuction, facelifts, thread lift procedures, and gynaecomastia. Our clinic uses a computer-controlled pump, as pictured here, that is extremely reliable and accurate to deliver the sedating drugs to patients. The anaesthetist also monitors the process and can adjust the computer's delivery as needed to keep the patient both comfortable and safe.
What is IV sedation?
IV sedation is an injectable type of anaesthesia, and it is quite effective at keeping patients comfortable and relaxed throughout a procedure. Most patients fall asleep, and do not remember the procedure during IV sedation. When used in conjunction with a local or regional anaesthesia, it provides a very good and safe alternative to general anaesthesia (GA).
How IV sedation is different from GA?
General anaesthesia uses drugs and machines to put patients to sleep, and to control their level of consciousness and breathing. As the drugs used are more disruptive, GA is associated with higher risks, requiring overnight monitoring, and having a longer period of recovery.
IV sedation, on the other hand, uses milder drugs, is better tolerated by patients, has lower risks, and normally patient can return home after only few hours of monitoring. An overnight stay is rarely required when using IV sedation.
How is it done and what is involved?
Patients who are to undergo IV sedation must fast 12 hours in advance (usually overnight) before undergoing a procedure with IV sedation. Furthermore, they must not drink anything on the morning of the procedure.
The anaesthetist will consult the patient before the procedure, taking a full medical history, and giving the patient a brief health check to assess their suitability for IV sedation. Both the anaesthetist and the patient sign a consent form.
The sedative medication, sometimes combined with a painkiller, is delivered through an IV cannula inserted into the patient’s vein. A pump is used to control the injected quantities while the patient’s vital signs are continuously monitored. Oxygen is also provided throughout the procedure.
Who is suitable to have IV sedation?
Most patients can have IV sedation. The anaesthetist will choose a suitable medication after discussing each individual patient’s medication, health problems, allergies and previous anaesthetic experiences.
IV sedation is normally well tolerated with only mild side effects. These might include residual drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea.
A rapid recovery is expected as soon as IV sedation is stopped. Nevertheless, patients are typically monitored for up to four hours to ensure they can safely return home. Patients must not drive after IV sedation, and so must be accompanied by a family member or a friend. In some cases, it may be possible to return home in a taxi or booked minicab.
As it requires the presence of an anaesthetist and specific drugs, IV sedation is more expensive that local anaesthesia alone. Your surgeon will calculate the exact cost for your specific surgery, and will discuss it with you during your consultation.