Topical Anesthetic Use in Cosmetic Dermatology

J Drugs Dermatol. 2023 Mar 1;22(3):256-259. doi: 10.36849/JDD.6978.


In today's society, there is growing interest in outpatient cosmetic procedures. Topical anesthetics are commonly used as anesthesia for these procedures. They can be used alone or part of a multi-pronged anesthetic approach. Topical anesthetics have many benefits, but they also have some negatives including risk of toxicity. For this paper, we focused on the role of topical anesthetics in cosmetic dermatology. We surveyed cosmetic dermatologists on the use of topical anesthetics in their practices. We found that the most popular topical anesthetic was benzocaine 20% / lidocaine 6% / tetracaine 4%. When asked for which procedures topical anesthetics are used for anesthesia, the most frequent responses were fractionally ablative lasers and fractionally non-ablative lasers. Though the majority of surveyed dermatologists have not had issues with the topical anesthetic, a portion had experienced adverse events in their patients. Topical anesthetics play an important role in cosmetic dermatology, allowing cosmetic procedures to take place in ways that are both comfortable for patients and allow patients to avoid more involved types of anesthesia. This is a growing area of cosmetic dermatology that requires additional research. J Drugs Dermatol. 2023;22(3): doi:10.36849/JDD.6978.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Local / adverse effects
  • Anesthetics, Local / adverse effects
  • Cosmetics*
  • Dermatology*
  • Humans


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Cosmetics