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FDA Issues Health Warning on Use of Topical Anesthetics

Posted: January 29, 2009

Ignited by global growth in the use of topical anesthetics for cosmetic procedures, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a health warning after a study concluded that the drug lidocaine carries risks.

Topical anesthetics are being increasingly prescribed by cosmetic surgeons and beauty professionals as a means of curbing pain both pre- and postsurgery, and lidocaine has in turn proved an increasingly popular active ingredients for use in gels and creams. These topical products are used for a range of procedures—from face lifts to laser hair removal treatments—and have become increasingly popular on the back of the huge growth for these procedures, particularly in Europe and the United States where they can be bought over the counter.

Wide range of personal care application

Although the dosage levels are closely monitored, lidocaine also has reported uses for products such as anti-itch and rash treatments, after-sun, shaving creams and moisturizers. In 2007, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory after two women died from using topical anaesthetics prior to laser hair removal procedures.

The recent study concerns lidocaine when used to reduce discomfort during breast mammography procedures.