Local Anaesthetic and Sedation

A primary concern when planning any type of surgical procedure is the anaesthetic and the prospect of being “completely under”. The Westbourne Centre is one of the few day surgery facilities in the UK offering major surgical procedures using a local anaesthetic with sedation.

Local anaesthesia stops pain during a medical procedure by blocking pain signals from being carried by nerves to the brain. A person having local anaesthesia will be awake during the procedure, although it can be combined with sedation to lessen the awareness.

Wherever you see this logo it means that the procedure can be carried out under Local Anaesthetic and Sedation

About local anaesthesia

The word 'anaesthesia' comes from a Greek word meaning ‘absence’ or ‘loss of sensation’.

Anaesthesia is one of the most significant developments of modern medicine because it allows once unbearable medical procedures to be performed without discomfort. Local anaesthesia completely blocks feeling from the treated area and the patient will stay awake during the procedure. Local anaesthetic drugs produce a numbing effect and can last from two to eight hours.

How is local anaesthesia given?


directly onto the area


onto the area

  • into the area
  • around a specific nerve supplying the area (nerve block)
  • directly into the fluid (spinal block) or tissue (epidural) around your spine

Other information

Nerve blocks, spinal blocks and epidurals are also called regional anaesthesia, but they still use local anaesthetic so you will stay awake during the procedure.

You will start to lose feeling very quickly in the treated area.

Your operation won't start until your clinician or dentist is absolutely sure that the area is numb.

It's important to realise that local anaesthesia takes away feelings of pain, but you may still feel pressure and movement during your procedure.

About sedation

Sedative drugs relieve anxiety and help you to relax without needing to be asleep during the procedure.

Patients remember very little about the treatment done under sedation. Sedative drugs don't block the pain signals to the brain, so local or regional anaesthesia is often given as well.

How is sedation given?


as gas and air


in tablet or liquid form


using a fine plastic tube (cannula) into a vein on the back of your hand or in your arm

Other information

The type and dose of sedative given depends on how anxious the patient is and the procedure.

Sedatives can sometimes affect breathing, so while sedated, the clinician/anaesthetist will constantly monitor the amount of oxygen in your blood through a small device on your finger, and the patient may be given extra oxygen through a mask or a plastic nasal tube.

What are the alternatives to local anaesthesia?

Instead of a local anaesthetic the procedure may require a general anaesthesia - this means the patient will be asleep during the procedure.

During consultation the clinician will advise on the best type of anaesthesia for the procedure and the situation. Preparing for local anaesthesia or sedation If you have chosen to move forward with a procedure using local anaesthetic and sedation, there are a couple of things you should know:

  • If you smoke, you will be asked to stop as smoking increases your risk of getting a wound infection and slows your recovery. Inhaled sedation doesn't usually require any specific preparation, but it can sometimes make you feel sick, so you may be asked to eat only light meals before your procedure.
  • If your sedative is being injected or swallowed, you will be asked not to eat for six hours before your procedure and not to drink for two hours before the procedure.

What to expect afterwards

After a local anaesthetic it may take several hours before the feeling comes back into the treated area. Take special care not to bump or knock the area.

You may need pain relief to help with any discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off. After a local anaesthetic or sedation, you will usually be able to go home when you feel ready, often within a couple hours after surgery. After a regional anaesthetic you should rest until the effects of the anaesthetic have passed. Follow the advice of your clinician and nurse about how much activity you do. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.

Recovering from local anaesthesia or sedation

If you need pain relief, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol. Always read the patient information that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice. Sedation temporarily affects your coordination and reasoning skills, so you must not drive, drink alcohol, operate machinery or sign legal documents for 24 hours afterwards. If you are in any doubt about driving, please contact your motor insurer so you are aware of their recommendations, and always follow your surgeon's advice.

What are the risks of local anaesthesia and sedation?

Local anaesthesia and sedation are commonly performed and generally safe. However, in order to make an informed decision and give your consent, you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and the risk of complications of these procedures.Side-effects of both local anaesthesia and sedation vary depending on which medicine is used. After local anaesthesia you may get a headache, feel sick or vomit and have feelings similar to those of being drunk or hung over. Some people experience a drop in blood pressure or temporary loss of muscle control.The side-effects of sedation are similar to local anaesthesia. You may also feel confused, you may not remember the operation and you may be tired or light-headed the following day.

Complications of local anaesthesia or sedation include:

  • toxic reactions - signs of a toxic reaction include tingling lips, ringing in the ears, drowsiness and slurred speech, rarely this can lead to an arrhythmia (a disturbance of the normal heartbeat) and heart attack
  • low oxygen levels in the blood - this can cause breathlessness and confusion

If any of these symptoms occur, please contact The Westbourne Centre immediately on 0121 456 0880

The exact risks are specific to you and differ for every person, so we haven't included statistics here. Ask your clinician or dentist to explain how these risks apply to you.

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