The tumescent technique for local anesthesia involves the injection of large volumes of very dilute lidocaine (local anesthetic) and epinephrine (drug that shrinks capillaries) into subcutaneous fat. The word tumescent means swollen and firm. With the tumescent technique, the volume of dilute lidocaine that is injected into fat is so large that the targeted areas literally become tumescent (swollen and firm). The tumescent technique produces profound and long-lasting local anesthesia of the skin and subcutaneous fat. Local anesthesia used in the tumescent technique for liposuction is so effective that patients no longer need intravenous sedatives, narcotic analgesics, or general anesthesia. As a result of the widespread capillary constriction caused by the epinephrine in the anesthetic solution, there is minimal bleeding during and after surgery. This is a major improvement in the liposuction technique compared to the older methods that simply use general anesthesia.
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