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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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Topical Anesthetic Drugs for Cosmetic Procedures

Audience: Consumers, healthcare professionals

[Posted 02/06/2007) FDA informed consumers and healthcare professionals of the potential hazards of using skin numbing products containing topical anesthetic drugs such as lidocaine, tetracaine, benzocaine, and prilocaine in a cream, ointment, or gel. Numbing products are widely used to numb the skin for medical and cosmetic procedures, and to relieve pain, burning and itching due to a variety of medical conditions. FDA has approved many of these products for these uses. Some of these products must be prescribed by a doctor, others may be purchased without a prescription. FDA is aware that use of these products before a cosmetic procedure may not be supervised by trained health professionals. Without this supervision, a patient may apply large amounts of the numbing product to their skin, which can cause life-threatening side effects and death. If a skin numbing product is prescribed or recommended for a procedure, consumers should do the following:

  • use a topical anesthetic approved by the FDA.
  • use a topical anesthetic that contains the lowest amount of anesthetic drugs possible that will relieve pain.
  • ask for instructions from your doctor on how to safely use the topical anesthetic.


[February 06, 2007 – Public Health Advisory – FDA]

Previous MedWatch alert
[December 06, 2006]