A local anaesthetic is usually used to numb a small area of the body, such as the lower arm for a carpal tunnel operation, or the eye for a cataract operation. 

Many local anaesthetics are given as injections in the area of the body to be operated on but other formulations are available. Anaesthetic eye drops are commonly used for intravitreal injections, for example. 

For a minor operation or procedure, you may still have an anaesthetist present as the amount of local anaesthetic used may need to be managed carefully to make sure that you are in no pain. 

What happens during your procedure?

If you are having surgery it will take place in the sterile environment of an operating theatre or our minimally invasive therapy and day surgery unit .  You will be prepared for surgery and the area to be operated on will be anaesthetised and you may also be given a sedative to help you relax.  Before the surgeon starts, he or she will check that the relevant area of your body is completely numb. 

Recovering from a local anaesthetic

Recovery is obviously much quicker than with a general anaesthetic or an epidural. Most patients will be up and about within a couple of hours. You will have a bandage and some protection on the operation site but you need to make sure that you do not knock or injure yourself until the numbness wears off. 

If you have had a sedative you may feel drowsy or find it difficult to concentrate and you should not drive. It is a good idea to ask someone to take you home and spend the next couple of days resting.