The use of conscious sedation is rapidly gaining acceptance and popularity in plastic surgery. At the present time, many procedures are performed using intravenous sedation and local anesthesia. The purpose of this article was to examine the safety and outcome of full abdominoplasties performed under conscious sedation at the authors’ institution. Over a 6-year period from 1997 to 2002, 266 abdominoplasties were performed by the two senior authors. One hundred thirteen of these (42 percent) were performed under a general or regional anesthetic because a concurrent procedure was performed that precluded the use of conscious sedation (64 hysterectomies, 18 hernia repairs, six urogynecologic procedures, 10 breast reductions, and one laparoscopic cholecystectomy) or because of patient and surgeon preference (14 cases). One hundred fifty-three abdominoplasties (58 percent) were performed under conscious sedation using intravenous midazolam and fentanyl along with a local anesthetic. No patients had an unplanned conversion to deep sedation or general anesthesia. Eighty percent of these cases were performed with a concurrent procedure (80 liposuctions, 19 breast augmentations, 20 mastopexies, three capsulotomies, and 13 varied facial aesthetic procedures). In addition, 12 patients had concurrent hernia repairs (five ventral and seven umbilical) under conscious sedation. Mean follow-up was 10 months (range, 1 to 56 months). There were no intraoperative complications and no major postoperative complications. The minor complication rate was 11.1 percent (10 seromas requiring needle aspiration in the office, three superficial wound infections, two cases of marginal skin necrosis, one stitch abscess, and one pseudobursa requiring reexcision). Seven revisions were performed for suboptimal scars (5 percent). The results of this study demonstrate that abdominoplasties can be performed under conscious sedation in a safe and cost-effective manner for almost all patients. This type of procedure is well tolerated, has a low complication rate, and has high patient satisfaction. Increasing experience and small modifications in local anesthesia and surgical technique have strengthened the authors’ conviction that conscious sedation is the preferred method of anesthesia for most patients undergoing abdominoplasty.
From the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Received for publication May 27, 2003; revised October 9, 2003.
Thomas A. Mustoe, M.D., Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Northwestern University Medical Center, Galter 19-250, 675 North St. Clair Street, Chicago, Ill. 60611, firstname.lastname@example.org