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Cosmetic and reconstructive breast augmentation is a frequently performed surgical procedure. Despite advances in medical treatment, surgical intervention is often associated with postoperative pain, nausea, and vomiting. Paravertebral nerve block (PVB) has the potential to offer long-lasting pain relief and fewer postoperative side effects when used for breast surgery. We compared thoracic PVB with general anesthesia for cosmetic breast surgery in a single-blinded, prospective, randomized study of 60 women scheduled for unilateral or bilateral breast augmentation or reconstruction. Patients were assigned (n = 30 per group) to receive a standardized general anesthetic (GA) or thoracic PVB (levels T1–7). Procedural data were collected, as well as verbal and visual analog pain and nausea scores. Verbal postoperative pain scores were significantly lower in the PVB group at 30 min (P = 0.0005), 1 h (P = 0.0001), and 24 h (P = 0.04) when compared with GA. Nausea was less severe in the PVB group at 24 h (P = 0.04), but not at 30 min or 1 h. We conclude that PVB is an alternative technique for cosmetic breast surgery that may offer superior pain relief and decreased nausea to GA alone.Paravertebral nerve block has the potential to offer long-lasting pain relief and few postoperative side effects when used for breast surgery. We demonstrated that paravertebral nerve block, when compared with general anesthesia, is an alternative technique for breast surgery that may offer pain relief superior to general anesthesia alone.