Your Guide to General Anesthesia

Your Guide to General Anesthesia

Posted on May 24, 2021 by Dr. Susan MacLennan

If you’re looking into cosmetic surgery options to help you feel more like the person you are on the inside, you’re probably feeling a wide range of emotions. Hope and apprehension are usually intertwined when thinking about plastic surgery procedures, especially when it comes to the surgery itself.

If you are anxious about the idea of going under anesthesia for your procedure, you’re not alone.  We’ll make sure all of your questions are answered before the day of surgery. We’ll thoroughly discuss the risks, purpose, and process of every procedure and the anesthetic plan.

Why Use General Anesthesia?

We use general anesthesia primarily to ensure patient safety, and also make sure patients are comfortable during procedures. Anesthesia completely blocks pain signals from reaching the brain, as well as relaxes muscles to reduce the risks of complications. Depending on your specific surgical plan, we may recommend general anesthesia, or a local anesthetic combined with intravenous (IV) sedation to induce what’s called twilight sedation, where you’re comfortable and sleepy but not fully anesthetized. You’ll be cared for by experienced anesthesiologists who specialize in outpatient procedures, and your anesthesiologist (or in a few cases, CRNA-nurse anesthetist) will be with you the entire time you’re asleep. They will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate and make minute-by-minute adjustments as necessary to make sure you are safe and comfortable.

Anesthesia Risks

Some patients express a concern over general anesthesia stemming from a fear of the risks the various medications that put you to sleep. However, general anesthesia performed by a trained anesthesiologist has very few risks. In fact, the risks associated with plastic surgery are usually specific to the procedure itself, not the anesthesia used. I often tell patients that they are taking more risk driving on the interstate to come to our office than they are when they have general anesthesia! The most common risk is a slight sore throat or a bit of postop nausea, but we’ve even gotten better about preventing those over the years.

Preparing for General Anesthesia

The preparation process for cosmetic surgeries starts weeks before the procedure, as you may need to adjust or stop taking certain medications or make other lifestyle changes to help reduce the risk of complications. We’ll give you a list of medications to avoid, and the surgery center or hospital staff will call you 2-3 days before surgery to clarify time of arrival. They will let you know when you should stop eating and drinking in preparation for surgery and let you know any other last-minute details.

What to Expect During the Procedure

After the nurses place your IV, we’ll take you into the operating room and hook up monitors and oxygen. It’s bright and cold in the OR, just as I like it! You’ll drift off to sleep after the anesthesiologist gives you medication in your IV. Once you’re asleep, the anesthesiologist may place a breathing tube to ensure you have a steady oxygen supply. While I’m performing your procedure, your anesthesiologist will be constantly monitoring your heart rate, breathing, and other vital signs and adjusting the flow of anesthesia accordingly. After the procedure is over, the medication will be reversed to bring you back to consciousness and you’ll wake up very gently. Our recovery nurses will continue to monitor you in the recovery room until you’re cleared to leave.

What to Expect After Surgery

As you wake up, you may feel confused and a little groggy as the medication wears off. Occasionally, you may experience mild side effects, including nausea, dry mouth, or sore throat which we will monitor and provide relief from accordingly. We’ll give you a drink and a small snack, and make sure you’re steady as you get up and go to the bathroom. Most patients are able to head home after 1-2 hours of recovery.

Request a Consultation in Burlington, VT

A blog post is no substitution for a consultation with me when it comes to the specifics of anesthesia and cosmetic surgery. During your consultation, I can address all of your concerns, helping you understand what to expect both from the procedure and your potential results. Get started today by calling us at (802) 231-4284 or filling out a contact form online.