Could this be a sign of things to come? Patients concerned about the risks of being under anesthesia while undergoing plastic surgery procedures may now have an alternative. Los Angeles-based aesthetic surgeon Cynthia A. Boxrud, MD, FACS, in a news segment that aired recently on the Los Angeles ABC-TV affiliate KABC, explained how she performs bilateral upper-eyelid blepharoplasty using minimal local injections of anesthesia in conjunction with acupuncture.

According to the segment’s transcript, here’s how it works: Prior to the procedure, the patient spends 30 minutes in a quiet room with an acupuncturist. Music, soothing words, and candles are used to contribute to a quiet atmosphere and help the patient relax while the acupuncturist places needles across the patient’s face, on the hands, and on the stomach to desensitize certain areas of the eyelid.

Then, instead of being placed on a gurney and wheeled into an operating room, the patient and Boxrud walk in calmly together. Before beginning the procedure, Boxrud injects a small amount of a local anesthetic into the patient’s eyelids.

While Boxrud works, she continuously talks to the patient and checks his or her comfort level. If the patient does feel discomfort, Boxrud asks the acupuncturist to massage calming acupressure points on the patient’s feet.

“Many of our patients have been looking for a viable alternative,” Boxrud wrote in her blog. “Instead of using sedation, we can use acupuncture needles to help with the sedation. When the surgery is finished, the patients have a sense of well-being and are safe in that they have less risk.”

[http://www.abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=health&id=4, May 1, 2006; http://www.drboxrud.com/blog, April 28, 2006]