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.