A nerve block is a medical procedure in which a local anesthetic or other medications are injected near or directly into a nerve or group of nerves to temporarily block the transmission of pain signals from that area to the brain. This relieves pain and effectively numbs the targeted region. Nerve blocks can be used for diagnostic purposes to determine the source of pain, as well as for therapeutic uses to manage pain, particularly in a localized area. Board-certified Dallas plastic surgeon Dr. Solomon Azouz uses nerve blocks to help control pain during and after facial plastic surgery.
Common nerve blocks for the face and neck include:
- Periorbital Nerve Block (Around the Eyes):
- Used to anesthetize areas around the eyes and the upper part of the face.
- Commonly used in ophthalmic and eyelid surgeries.
- Local anesthetic is injected around the supraorbital and supratrochlear nerves, which are branches of the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve (V1).
- Temporal Nerve Block:
- Administered to provide anesthesia to the temporal region of the skull and scalp.
- Used for various procedures involving the scalp or for managing migraine headaches.
- Local anesthetic is injected around the auriculotemporal nerve, a branch of the mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve (V3).
- Infraorbital Nerve Block (Under the Eyes):
- Performed to provide anesthesia to the area below the eyes, including the upper lip and maxillary region of the face.
- Commonly used in dental procedures or surgeries involving the maxilla.
- Local anesthetic is injected around the infraorbital nerve, which is a branch of the maxillary division of the trigeminal nerve (V2).
- Mental Nerve Block (Chin):
- Targets the mental nerve, which supplies sensation to the chin and lower lip.
- Typically used in dental procedures involving the lower front teeth, such as extractions or restorative work.
- Local anesthetic is injected near the mental foramen to block the mental nerve.
- Cervical Plexus Block (Neck):
- Provides anesthesia to the neck and upper shoulder region.
- Used for various surgical procedures on the neck or for managing acute and chronic neck pain.
- Local anesthetic is injected near the cervical plexus, which is formed by the ventral rami of the first four cervical nerves (C1-C4).
Mechanism of Nerve Blocks:
- Pain Signal Transmission: Normally, when you experience pain or discomfort, it is because sensory nerves in the affected area detect the pain stimulus and send electrical signals to the brain. These signals travel along nerve pathways, ultimately reaching the brain, where they are interpreted as pain.
- Local Anesthetic Injection: During a nerve block procedure, a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine or bupivacaine, is injected by Dr. Azouz near the targeted nerve or group of nerves. This anesthetic temporarily blocks the nerve’s ability to transmit pain signals.
- Sodium Channel Blockade: Local anesthetics primarily work by blocking sodium channels in nerve cells. These channels are essential for transmitting electrical signals along the nerves. Pain signals are essentially stopped when sodium channels are blocked because nerve cells are unable to produce and transmit action potentials, or electrical signals.
- Onset and Duration: The onset of pain relief after a nerve block can vary depending on the type of anesthetic used and the specific nerve being targeted. It can range from immediate relief to taking a few minutes to become effective. The duration of pain relief also varies and depends on the type of anesthetic and its concentration. It can last anywhere from a few hours to several days.
- Temporary Nature: Nerve blocks are temporary and reversible. The local anesthetic eventually wears off as it is metabolized or diffuses away from the nerve. This allows normal nerve function to gradually return.
Enhancing Comfort in Cosmetic Procedures:
By using nerve blocks, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Azouz can reduce or eliminate the need for general anesthesia, which can have systemic side effects and a longer recovery period. It also minimizes bleeding during surgery as it constricts blood vessels in the targeted area. Reduced bleeding leads to a clearer surgical field and helps Dallas plastic surgeon Dr. Azouz achieve more precise results.
Examples of Procedures utilizing Nerve Blocks:
- Nerve blocks can be used to anesthetize the areas being lifted or tightened during a facelift procedure and reduce discomfort for the patient.
- Periorbital nerve blocks are frequently used in eyelid surgery to numb the eye area and surrounding tissues, allowing for precise and pain-free surgery.
- Nerve blocks may be employed to anesthetize the nasal region during rhinoplasty, minimizing any pain or discomfort experienced by the patient.
Injectable Fillers and Botox:
- Nerve blocks are sometimes used to provide local anesthesia during treatments with dermal fillers and Botox to reduce pain and discomfort for the patient.
- Temporal nerve blocks can be used to anesthetize the ear area during otoplasty procedures.
- A mental nerve block may be administered to numb the chin area for chin liposuction surgery, ensuring the patient’s comfort.
- Nerve blocks can be used to provide anesthesia for a neck lift, reducing pain and discomfort during the procedure.
- Nerve blocks can be applied to numb the forehead and brow area, facilitating the surgical process.
- Nerve blocks can be utilized to provide anesthesia for scar revision procedures, making the process more comfortable for the patient.
Board-certified Dallas plastic surgeon Dr. Azouz will work closely with you to personalize and tailor an effective anesthetic plan that not only ensures optimal comfort but also prioritizes your safety and specific needs. The process will include a detailed discussion about your medical history, any preexisting conditions, and your preferences, allowing for the crafting of a customized approach that integrates nerve blocks and other anesthesia techniques to promote a positive and reassuring surgical experience.
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