So what to do about this? I am a huge fan of facial fillers, but I hate causing pain. Fortunately, we have many ways to reduce or eliminate pain during procedures. First, I routinely use a topical numbing cream on the area that is getting injected. Letting this cream sit in place for several minutes reduces the pain significantly. I also use a cooling spray that helps numb each area further just before injection. Finally, I may perform injections to the nerves that provide sensation to the area around the mouth. This nerve block is similar to the injections a dentist performs before doing dental work, so you can expect to be numb for an hour or two afterward. Applying ice before and after the procedure may help as well.
I can think of a couple of questions you may have, once you digested this information, so I’ll try to anticipate and answer those now:
1) If I’m getting a shot to make me numb, why does the shot hurt? This is the biggest downside of local anesthetics, that is, medications we use to numb tissue. Local anesthetics such as lidocaine do burn when they are injected. This is because the solution is fairly acidic. Adding a neutralizer (sodium bicarbonate) may help with the burning. I find injecting very slowly also helps. The burning does fade very quickly, however, so this temporarily painful sensation is often worth undergoing if it means comfort during a procedure.
2) The numbing cream sounds great- can I get it for home use? Topical anesthetic, i.e. numbing cream, is the active ingredient in some over-the-counter medications such as Orajel. The prescription strength is quite a bit stronger, however, and the reason it is prescription-only is because using too much local anesthetic can be harmful; heart arrthymias, seizures, and even death have been reported after improper use of numbing cream (see the FDA report here). So it is very important to use topical anesthetic only as directed, and only under the supervision of a doctor.
Do you have any questions about numbing medicine, or ways to reduce pain during possibly painful procedures?