What to Expect From WALANT Surgery

Women holding hand in pain

Anesthesia makes much of modern medicine possible, but it comes at a cost. That cost can be monetary—anesthesia is expensive and an anesthesiologist may not be in-network with every insurance—or in terms of comfort. Having anesthesia for surgery can increase recovery times and sometimes comes with nausea, a sore throat, and the feeling of being “hungover” for 1-2 days.

What if you didn’t need that kind of anesthesia? For many hand surgeries, you don’t. Whenever Dr. Jacobson can, he offers patients the option of wide awake or WALANT surgery. WALANT stands for wide-awake, local anesthesia, no tourniquet.

Local Anesthesia and WALANT

To be clear, WALANT does not mean getting surgery without any anesthesia. It does, however, mean no general anesthesia. General anesthesia is the type that puts you to sleep. In WALANT surgery, we use local anesthesia, which blocks sensation only at the operation site. Ever had Novocain at the dentist? That’s local anesthesia.

For WALANT surgery, we use lidocaine. Lidocaine is a commonly used local anesthetic that numbs the area in which it is injected, stopping the feeling of pain. This enables a patient to have a painless procedure while being wide awake.

Advantages of WALANT

WALANT surgery confers distinct advantage to people who qualify for it, which is extremely common at Dr. Jacobson’s practice. Because no general anesthesia is necessary, patients leave the hospital or surgery center the same day. Some procedures can even be performed in the office.

Other advantages of WALANT include:

  • No nausea from anesthesia
  • Shorter hospital stays
  • Less pain after surgery
  • Lower rate of complications
  • Lower cost than surgery with anesthesia

One of the most important benefits of WALANT is the immediate feedback that’s possible after the surgery. Patients are able to participate in surgery by moving their fingers or hand, which, in some procedures such as trigger finger release or tendon surgery, helps the surgeon see if the surgery has been effective.

Patients are also able to understand both their surgery and their postoperative instructions better. The surgeon can explain what he or she is doing while the surgery is being performed. After the procedure, patients are not foggy from anesthesia and can better comprehend any post-op care instructions they receive.

Many of the hand and wrist procedures Dr. Jacobson performs can be done wide awake or with WALANT. Some of these include:

…and more. If you need surgery for your hand, fingers or wrist, request an appointment. Dr. Jacobson and his staff can tell you what procedure will prove most effective for you and your condition, and if you are a candidate for WALANT.