When you are planning to have surgery, it is normal to have many questions, and one of the most common topics our patients ask about is anesthesia. You may be wondering how you will respond to it, what the experience of getting it will be like, and more.
To put your mind at ease, we have put together a list of some of the most commonly asked questions we get at our office about anesthesia to help you understand the procedure and what to expect before your surgical procedure.
The main purpose of anesthesia is to lessen or eliminate the pain and stress associated with undergoing a surgical procedure. It is estimated that around 60,000 people a day are having surgery using general anesthesia.
General anesthesia is a combination of drugs used to render patients unconscious, eliminate pain, and keep them still so that the surgery can be more easily performed.
Before anesthetics were used, surgeries involved much pain and distress for patients. In fact, operations were so complex and dangerous that they were avoided as much as possible—which is one reason why procedures such as amputations, which took much less time, were much more common than attempting to repair a complex fracture.
There are different types of anesthetics and other drugs that may be given to a patient depending on the medical procedure being performed. In some cases, a local or regional anesthetic may be sufficient to numb the pain.
To give a patient anesthesia, a doctor must be well trained in how to administer and monitor the anesthetic drugs’ use during surgery. So, when you have your procedure, your surgeon will focus on performing the procedure while an anesthesiologist will concentrate on sedating you.
Once you have been given anesthetic, you will quickly lose awareness. In some ways, it is like falling asleep, though you will not have any dreams. You will not feel any pain. And you will not wake up until the procedure is over and the sedation is stopped.
Anesthesia is a drug that can be mood-altering—and different people will have different reactions to it. As patients wake up from their sedation, they may experience some temporary emotional responses such as being combative or teary-eyed. But this behavior will wear off as the drug wears off.
In some rare cases, a patient may regain some awareness of what is happening in the operating room when they should be unconscious. Should this occur, the patient may be able to hear what is happening around them and possibly even feel the procedure being performed. But this is not at all a common occurrence, and most people have no problems at all while under anesthesia.
Overall, it is very safe to receive general anesthesia. Most people do just fine with anesthesia and recover well from its use, even if they have serious health conditions. In addition, your doctor will help manage any risks by discussing your medical history, prescription medicines you take, and other concerns you may have.
Although anesthesia is generally very safe, any surgical procedure can present a certain degree of risk. It may be slightly more concerning to receive general anesthesia if you have certain risk factors—such as being very young, being very elderly, being very sick, or having several health conditions that complicate how you might tolerate a surgical procedure. Your doctor will discuss your situation with you and help you to weigh the benefits and risks of having surgery.
A patient who is mentally competent to make their own decisions can certainly decide not to have anesthesia. Keep in mind that if the medical procedure you are contemplating requires general anesthesia, then turning down the anesthesia may mean turning down the surgery. You will need to weigh the benefits and risks of making that decision.
For certain minimally invasive procedures, it is possible to use what is referred to as conscious sedation or ‘twilight anesthesia’—using a drug that keeps the patient awake but relaxed and pain-free. If you are interested in knowing more, ask your doctor about your options.
Getting a surgical procedure can mean making a lot of decisions. But the process is a lot smoother and more comforting when you work with a surgical team that cares about you as an individual.
At Midtown Surgical & Skin Institute, we believe you should have choices when it comes to your surgery. That is why we consult with you to create a personalized care plan that fits your preferences.
Get back to the healthy lifestyle you envision for yourself. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.