Aside from a couple of martinis, is there a way to numb up before an “uncomfortable” (the doctors’ words, not mine) procedure such as a mammogram? A study published last summer in Radiology suggested skin-numbing lidoaine gel is the answer, but FDA now says that might not be a good idea.
Following reports of the deaths of two women who used topical anesthetics (which could include lidocaine, tetracaine, benzocaine or prilocaine and are available over the counter and by prescription) before laser hair removal, the agency in 2007 issued a warning about potential dangers of these products.
And though the Radiology study found no serious or life-threatening effects from the gel, FDA on Jan. 16 decided to expand its warning to include mammograms. They advise women to talk with their doctors if they are considering using skin-numbing products before a mammogram. In addition, FDA advises women not to:
- Apply topical anesthetics heavily, or over large areas of skin
- Apply these products to irritated or broken skin
- Wrap the treated skin with plastic wrap or other dressings
- Apply heating pads to skin treated with these products
Increased skin temperature causes the amount of anesthetic reaching the blood stream to be unpredictable, and increases risk of life-threatening side-effects, which can include irregular heartbeat, seizures, breathing difficulties, coma or even death.