Local anesthesia is used for minor procedures such as sutures or skin biopsies. A physician uses local anesthetic to numb a small area of tissue without affecting surrounding areas. Local anesthetic drugs can be applied on the skin’s surface or injected at the site of the procedure. The numbness typically wears off within a few hours.
Regional anesthesia is used for more extensive procedures that involve larger areas of the body, such as a knee or hand. Regional anesthetic drugs can block sensation in an entire limb. They do not cause the patient to lose consciousness. Regional anesthetic is typically given through a catheter.