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Wirral University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Local Anaesthetic

A local anaesthetic is a type of painkilling medication that is used to numb areas of the body during some surgical procedures. You stay awake when you have a local anaesthetic but in some cases the local anaesthetic can be combined with sedation.

How does local anaesthetic work?

Local anaesthetic causes loss of feeling to a specific area of your body without making you lose consciousness. It works by blocking the nerves from the affected part of your body so that pain signals cannot reach your brain. You will not be able to feel any pain during the procedure but you may still feel some pressure or movement. 

It only takes a few minutes to lose feeling in the area where local anaesthetic is given. The doctor will make sure that the area is fully numb before starting the procedure. It can take a few hours for local anaesthetic to wear off and for full feeling to return. You should be careful not to damage the area during this time.

When is local anaesthetic used?

Local anaesthetic is often used by dentists, surgeons and GPs when carrying out minor operations on small areas of the body. For example, local anaesthetic is often used during:

  • The removal of a tooth or a filling
  • Minor skin surgery, such as the removal of moles
  • Some types of eye surgery, such as the removal of cataracts
  • For surgery the local anaesthetic is often injected into the skin around the operation area to make it numb and pain free to be able to perform the operation.

We always test the effectiveness before we go any further.