The Role of Technology in Awake Plastic Surgery: Advancements and Innovations

Awake plastic surgery is a patient-centric innovation in the world of plastic surgery that has taken patients and physicians captive, with its use being capable of producing remarkable outcomes and reducing recovery and preparation times. Accordingly, the rise of awake plastic surgery has risen in tandem with certain technological advancements which have made the process more accessible. These advancements have made awake surgeries more feasible, accurate, and potent. Below, we examine the role of technology in awake plastic surgery, including some current advancements and innovations.

The Role of Technology in Awake Plastic Surgery: Advancements and Innovations

Dr. Kim has built his practice around utilizing awake plastic surgery elements, making him a top plastic surgeon in Los Angeles for safer, more refined cosmetic surgery. If you are interested in the awake surgery process, then we recommend engaging with this overview of some of the technological advancements that have made it more advanced.

Awake Plastic Surgery: The Basics

Awake plastic surgery covers any procedure when the patient is not placed under general anesthetic, thus allowing them to remain awake.

General anesthetic allows for a process wherein the patient’s body is supplied with anesthetic material, placing them into an unconscious state. While this prevents the patient from experiencing pain, it comes with several drawbacks, including increased strain on the body and a high risk for memory loss (particularly for longer exposure)

In an awake procedure, a patient receives only local anesthetic, which only affects the target area of a surgical operation. It provides a numbing effect, which effectively prevents discomfort while placing less strain on the body’s systems. Awake plastic surgery has surged in popularity in recent years, due to its ability to achieve many of the same results as processes that utilize general anesthesia.

Many of the classic procedures associated with plastic surgery can be performed as awake procedures. As time moves on, the number of operations that can be performed awake will certainly rise. However, they require being conducted by a physician with sufficient expertise in their field, making them more limited in availability at present.

Local Anesthesia: Progress Being Made

One of the major elements that has increased the efficacy and safety of awake procedures has been the refinement of the local anesthesia process.

Local anesthesia is overall much less stressful on the body’s physical systems, affecting only local areas of administration rather than having a more global impact on the body. This is because the anesthetic chemicals that sedate and numb the body are only applied to the target surgery area.

The refinement of the local anesthesia technique brings with it a number of advantages. For one, many patients have historically been blocked from receiving the treatment they desire due to the stress of general anesthesia on the body.

Why Avoid Receiving General Anesthesia?

Receiving general anesthesia is highly stressful to the body. In some cases, may actually be actively prohibitive to some patients receiving care. This is because anesthesia can interact poorly with patients who have certain chronic diseases. This includes individuals that suffer from conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, or heart disease.

Because of this, physicians will usually opt not to operate on those who might suffer complications from general anesthesia. This means that many are left disqualified from the procedures they might want. Even healthier individuals might find their systems heavily taxed by the process of undergoing general anesthesia. On top of this, the use of general anesthesia is very costly and typically ends up being one of the main factors that contributes to the overall cost of an operation.

And finally, due to the various stressors that general anesthesia enacts on the body, it ends up prolonging recovery times for patients. This is a delicate period that has the potential to impact every area of a patient’s life for some time.

Refining Our Understanding of Human Anatomy

The past few decades have given rise to an increase in biology’s general understanding of the complexities of human anatomy. Specifically, there has been an increase in the understanding of the subtleties of manipulating certain folds and creases involved in the sometimes-delicate processes of plastic surgery.

This impacts awake surgery in several different ways, all of them positive for both patients and surgeons. Due to the increased confidence shared by physicians and patients alike, outcomes have been significantly improved.

Because of this general increase in competency, the need to place patients under general anesthesia has decreased. Skilled physicians can better home in on their target areas without distraction. This results in:

  • less damage to surrounding tissues
  • decreased formation of subdermal scar tissue
  • and achievement of overall more refined results

In addition, many procedures that used to be full-on reconstructive surgeries are now much simpler. This is due to an enhanced understanding of how to manipulate the existing flesh and tissue of the body.

Many advances in plastic surgery and other disciplines come from cross-referencing different specialties. In this way, advancements in the medical community generally trickle down into our own practices.

Computer Assisted Imaging

Many of the advantageous advances in the plastic surgery world have grown hand in hand with the progress that has been made in the medical world in general over the past few decades. In particular, the revolution in certain elements of computers and their ability to assist physicians has impacted the entire trade-in beneficial ways.

Nowadays, the imaging potential of computers has grown incredibly advanced. The assistance that this gives to physicians both prior to and during surgeries cannot be underestimated. Powerful imaging allows a physician to observe the potentialities of a given procedure both before it occurs and during the process itself.

Allowing physicians a clearer picture of the timeline of a surgery gives them a strong head start. It provides for successfully clearing the potential hurdles that might arise during its execution. Because of this elevated ability to pre-plan and execute operations, the necessity of placing a patient under general anesthesia is diminished.

Tissue Engineering

One of the more exciting developments in plastic surgery and medicine in general over the last couple of decades has been an enhanced understanding of tissue engineering. This is quite an advantageous development for a number of reasons.

First, one of the more pressing and challenging elements for plastic surgeons for some time has been the body’s adverse reaction to foreign elements being introduced during procedures. By generating tissues that are derived from the patient’s own body, a physician is able to largely avoid this problem that has impeded progress for decades.

The body does not recognize tissues cloned from itself to be hazardous externalities and thus does not attack them when introduced. This prevents a number of complications from arising, including infection and inflammation.

3D Printing & Modeling

Another technological breakthrough that has aided physicians in the past few decades has been the development of higher levels of 3D printing. 3D printing  and modeling allow a physician to produce realistic physical models of patients’ faces. Thus they can demonstrate possible outcomes prior to any actual operating work being done.

In addition to this, the patient is able to see a fairly realistic representation expected results. This allows the patient to either adjust what they might request or make even more highly informed decisions surrounding their procedure.

In the future, it is possible that 3D printing might even be able to print the implants that a patient might want implemented into their physique. This remains slightly out of reach, though even speculating on such a process engenders new horizons for the practice.

Artificial Intelligence

Although this is a burgeoning field, Artificial Intelligence has already begun to impact awake and traditional plastic surgery operations. For one, AI has the potential to enact many tasks that have traditionally been relegated to humans. Applying a machine’s precision to some of the surgical operations has the potential to completely eliminate error in terms of the technical aspects of surgery.

AI and big datasets can also facilitate guiding patients’ decisions in regard to what they decide to go for in terms of aesthetic decisions.

Another possible implementation of AI is through the use of facial recognition technologies. This has the potential to aid patients in creating a personalized aesthetic profile with an intelligent database. This has the potential to create even higher levels of personally satisfying outcomes. At the same time, it minimizes error and labor on the physician’s part.

By allowing AI access to the historical record of after-images that physicians produce after their procedures, the medical community can use these tools to evolve what can be achieved with their practice. There is still much research and testing to be done prior to widespread implementation of these potential practices.

Find Out If You Are a Good Candidate for An Awake Procedure

You can schedule a pre-surgical consultation to determine whether you are a good candidate for an awake procedure. Generally speaking, even more patients will qualify for awake procedures over traditional procedures. This is because of the limitations that are placed on those who are not deemed healthy enough for general anesthesia. During your pre-surgical consultation, you will discuss with your physician a number of relevant details per your upcoming procedure. You can also learn more about what the role of technology in awake plastic surgery looks like.

Some of these details include things like the following:

  • Your personal medical history
  • Any history of surgeries
  • Your family’s medical history
  • Any medications you might be taking
  • Lifestyle habits and possible contraindications

Overall, there is a high likelihood of you being approved for your desired procedure. However, you will not know the exact details of your personal situation until you resolve your consultation.

LA’s Premiere Physician for Awake Surgeries

Dr. Kenneth Kim is a leading expert on awake plastic surgery in Los Angeles. Fully in step with the most modern advances in technology and his own practice, Dr. Kim is your top choice for safe and professional awake plastic surgery in Los Angeles. Visit his website and schedule a consultation today to discover his practice’s unique, refined approach to cosmetic surgery. Regarding the role of technology in awake plastic surgery, you can learn about its intricacies during a personal consultation.


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