Plastic Surgery Under Local Anesthesia (Awake Anesthesia)

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Plastic Surgery Under Local Anesthesia

Our Awake Anesthesia at Dream Medical Group is an advanced approach to plastic surgery that only involves a local anesthetic with or without twilight sedation. The technique avoids the complications of placing the patient completely under general anesthesia. Typical sedation can cause patients to be oversedated. And this can cause them to not breathe enough to oxygenate the brain and the vital organs. Awake Anesthesia is safer and less invasive than the anesthetic alternatives, so the patient recovers more quickly, and the results are more attractive.

Dr. Kenneth Kim is an innovator in this exciting new approach to plastic surgery. He is the medical director of Dream Medical Group Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery in Los Angeles, California. He learned the technique while studying in Seoul, South Korea, and he’s since brought the practice stateside so that his patients in the United States can benefit. 

Dream Medical Group is more than just a plastic surgery practice—we are a leader in the field of aesthetic enhancement. Browse our blog to see what’s new at Dream Medical. 

About Anesthesia

Many people aren’t aware that the potential complications associated with general anesthesia are some of the more precarious propositions in major surgery. It can also place undue strain on the patient. While training under some of the brightest minds in plastic surgery in South Korea, Dr. Kim came to understand that the risk to reward ratio for deep anesthetic sleep is not optimal for many procedures. In fact, in some surgical scenarios, the riskiest part of the operation is the general anesthesia.[1] That’s why Dr. Kim embraced the alternative approach encountered while studying in Seoul. Although mortality rates are extremely low for cosmetic procedures, a study determining the safety of office‐based surgery found that more than two-thirds of deaths and three-quarters of hospital transfers were associated with cosmetic procedures performed under general anesthesia. 


Plastic surgery with a local anesthetic and moderate sedation is also known as Awake Anesthesia. Dr. Kim brought the concept from South Korea to his practice in Beverly Hills, where, with the aid of American technology and resources, he continued to refine his technique. Today, doctors across the United States are beginning to see what Dr. Kim has understood for a long time: Awake Anesthesia is the most advantageous method in many instances because it produces less pain and leads to less scarring than traditional methods.  

Let Dr. Kenneth Kim open your eyes to the latest advancements in plastic surgery. He is widely recognized as a thought leader in many areas of his field, including Asian plastic surgery. If you’re curious to learn more, Contact Dream Medical and set up an informative consultation with one of our helpful representatives. You can call us at 213-700-4297  

Awaken to the Benefits

To those not “in the know,” remaining awake during major surgery may at first seem like a funny way to mitigate risk. First, it’s important to know that while moderate sedation will leave the patient fully responsive, the medication ensures that they remain calm and serene during the course of the procedure. The local anesthetic completely numbs the surgical site so the sedated patient will neither feel nor remember any pain from the procedure. Because local anesthesia works directly on the affected nerve endings, patients actually experience less pain after Awake Plastic Surgery. In most cases, patients are able to control their post-operative discomfort with only some Tylenol, as opposed to heavy pain killers, as one might expect. 


In general anesthesia, the patient is placed in a coma-like state, completely unconscious of the surgical procedure (and everything else, for that matter). With local anesthesia, only the area being operated on is numbed. With general anesthesia, the surgical team must remain hypervigilant to ensure the patient’s airway is unobstructed. That’s because the patient slips into a state far deeper than sleep when fully anesthetized. Asphyxiation is a real risk.[2] Not so with awake anesthesia while under twilight sedation, in which the patient is in a relaxed and dreamy state of mind, but utterly able to manage their own breathing. Patients are even able to respond to the doctor’s helpful direction.

Read the article that speaks to the risks of general anesthesia:

Advantages of Awake Anesthesia
  • Awake patients don’t require a breathing tube
  • They are responsive to their surgeon’s instructions, which makes for a smoother procedure 
  • With local anesthesia, patients report feeling less pain after the procedure
  • General anesthesia has post-surgical side effects, like dizziness, nausea and constipation 


Awake Anesthesia may be a breakthrough, but it isn’t for everyone, and general anesthesia still has its place. At your personal consultation at Dream Medical Group, Dr. Kim and his team will determine the course of treatment that is most appropriate for your physical condition and aesthetic goals. Your personal aesthetic plan may include Awake Anesthesia. Consider consultation with Dr. Kim to learn more. 

Your Personal Consultation at Dream Medical Group

We make patient’s dreams come true at Dream Medical Group Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. We are led by our esteemed medical director, the capable Dr. Kenneth Kim. Dr. Kim has been bringing together the best practices of east and west since his medical training began—he is a proud alum of the programs at Berkeley, Yale and Yonsei University, located just outside of Seoul, the bustling and cosmopolitan capital of South Korea. Dr. Kim’s superior skills and personal touch have earned him reels of video reviews from his happy patients.    

We can’t wait to meet you! Schedule your personal consultation with Dream Medical group today and begin your transformation journey with us. Call our Southern California offices at 213-700-4297

The Awake Anesthesia Process

Awake Anesthesia will initiate whatever surgical procedure the patient elects to have. The process typically begins with the intravenous administration of a moderate sedative which will quickly place the patient in a peaceful and relaxed state. While the sedative works its magic, Dr. Kim and his medical team numb the surgical site with a local anesthetic to ensure a pain-free experience

The patient will be ready for surgery once the sedative and anesthesia have taken effect. Even though they are numbed and relaxed, the patient is still responsive to the doctor and other stimuli.    

Awake Plastic Surgery at Dream Medical Group

Dr. Kim has practiced his Awake Anesthesia technique across a multitude of varied procedures. Below, you will see some highlights from the doctor’s refined repertoire of plastic surgery procedures.


Dr. Kim is renowned around the world for the precision and grace of his Awake Blepharoplasty. Also known as an eyelid lift, Dr. Kim delicately corrects droopy eyelids that can obscure eye contact and obfuscate face-to-face communication. Our eyes say so much about us before we’ve even spoken a word. So, Dr. Kim expertly sculpts redundant skin around the eyes, removing the sagging excesses while lifting and tightening what remains. His approach to Awake Blepharoplasty grants Dr. Kim even greater control over the outcomes because he can instruct the patient to open and close their eyes during the procedure to ensure the best look.[2]


An Awake Breast Augmentation averts many of the rare, though unfortunate mishaps that may happen after breast surgery. An Awake Breast Augmentation results in less post-operative bleeding than traditional breast augmentation. That’s because bleeding is much harder to see while the patient is still under general anesthesia, making it difficult to predict and harder to control after the anesthesia has worn off. This is not an issue with Awake Anesthesia, which employs a local anesthetic. Dr. Kim and his team can minimize tissue disruption and better control bleeding during and after surgery.[3] Less bleeding and trauma during surgery leads to the development of less scar tissue. Less scar tissue leads to fewer and more mild instances of capsular contracture. Capsular contracture is an unwanted outcome of breast augmentation when an abundance of scar tissue can build up and contract the breast implants. Fortunately, capsular contracture can be corrected with revision surgery. 


An Awake Facelift will rejuvenate your face and revitalize your visage by removing redundant and sagging skin. An Awake Facelift produces less trauma and scarring in the patient. That means the patient can look forward to a shorter, smoother recovery than they otherwise would. And, as everyone knows, fewer scars equals more fabulous results.     


An Awake Abdominoplasty appropriately addresses one of the most abundant concerns surrounding tummy tuck surgery—the extended recovery time. An Awake Tummy Tuck can have you back on your feet to enjoy your results in a fraction of the time that it takes to bounce back from traditional abdominoplasty. It’s for this reason that we sometimes refer to this procedure as our Rapid Recovery Tummy Tuck. At Dream Medical Group in sunny Los Angeles, California, it is our priority to help make your recovery as fast as possible so you can dazzle the world with the tight, toned new you! 

*Results May Vary