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Anesthesia Frequently Asked Questions

It’s natural to have questions about anesthesia, and since our goal is to ensure that you feel confident and comfortable going into surgery and that all of your questions are answered, we asked our anesthesiologist, Dr. Ricarda Franco, to answer the frequently asked anesthesia questions she commonly hears from our patients. If you would like any additional information, please don’t hesitate to ask during your consultation, or give us a call any time, at: 310.278.8200. You can rest assured that you are in the hands of the best surgical team available!

Will I remember what happened?

During anesthesia, you will have no awareness of anything that is occurring during surgery. As in any form of unconsciousness, you won’t recall anything other than what occurred prior to the anesthetic and as you wake up.

What happens in case of a medical emergency?

The risk factor of an unpredicted event occurring during or after anesthesia is extremely low. Prior to surgery, you will undergo a variety of tests, such as blood work and an EKG, to ensure that you are ready for anesthesia and surgery.

Will I be completely asleep? What is twilight sleep?

Yes you will be completely asleep, which means you won't feel anything, hear anything, or remember anything. Twilight sleep is not a specific medical term but usually refers to a type of anesthesia wherein the patient is asleep but has not undergone general anesthesia. It is a lighter type of sedation but is still completely effective at blocking pain and awareness of surgical procedures. Twilight sedation can cause fewer or milder side effects than general anesthesia, which may make it a good choice for some patients. The specific type of anesthesia for your procedure should be discussed with your plastic surgeon Dr. Cassileth or Dr. Killeen and Dr. Franco.

Will I be intubated?

This depends on the procedure you will undergo, the surgeon’s preference and anesthesiologist’s recommendations. However, being intubated is completely safe. With modern advancements in anesthetic medicines and monitoring equipment, a patient can have virtually no side effects.

What are the risks of anesthesia?

Scientific advances in patient safety have made the risks associated with anesthesia very low. Your surgical procedure will be performed with Cassileth Plastic Surgery because you have been deemed healthy enough for the procedure and have no underlying risks that could complicate your surgery. At our surgical facility, the most common side effects of anesthesia are nausea or sore throat.

What are the chances of serious complications from anesthesia?

Modern anesthetic techniques, medications and monitors have greatly decreased the risk of serious anesthetic complications for even the most delicate surgeries. Anyone with existing medical conditions that would increase the risk of serious complications would not be operated on in an outpatient surgery center.

Is anesthesia painful?

No, modern anesthesia is not at all painful. The most uncomfortable part of the anesthetic is getting the IV placed (our patients report that they feel a slight pinprick or nothing at all). Modern anesthetic drugs and gases, combined with the constant monitoring by the anesthesiologist results in a completely comfortable experience for the patient.

What are the different kinds of anesthesia?

There are 2 main types of anesthesia used in the outpatient setting. For both types of anesthesia, the patient is fully asleep, unaware, and not experiencing any pain or discomfort. The type of anesthesia is based on the recommendations of the surgical team, and is uniquely tailored to each patient and procedure.

  • General anesthetic means that a breathing tube is placed after the patient is anesthetized through the IV catheter (this is called intubation). This type of anesthetic is very safe, and has changed greatly over the past several years. The patient will wake up quickly and feel refreshed.
  • Sedation is performed by an anesthesiologist and does not involve the placement of a breathing tube, but the patient is still fully asleep and unaware, as with a general anesthetic.

How is the anesthesia administered?

It depends on the type of anesthetic. General anesthesia is given by placing an IV catheter in a vein. After the patient is asleep, a breathing tube is placed. The breathing tube assists in maintaining proper breathing and gas may also be administered. With sedation, only IV anesthetics can be given.

Are they any particular foods, medications, vitamins, that I should avoid before having an anesthetic?

Avoid anything your surgeon instructs you to avoid, such as medications or supplements that increase bleeding like aspirin or Plavix. During your pre-surgery interview you should disclose any and all medications and herbal remedies you are taking so that you can be advised on how to prepare for your surgery. Patients should continue on their regular medication when directed to do so by a medical professional who is familiar with the surgical procedure you will be undergoing.

Avoid alcohol and smoking before surgery or for as long as you have been advised during your pre-surgery interview. Smoking can interfere with wound healing and can increase the chances for infection.

How long does it take to come out of the anesthetic?

That is variable, and many different factors can play a role. But generally, most patients are awake within 30 minutes to an hour.

When can I drive after anesthesia?

Do not drive for 24 hours after your surgery or after stopping any pain medication that you will be given. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home or to your recovery facility after you have recovered and been discharged from the facility.

We hope that these answers to the frequently asked anesthesia questions have been helpful and reassuring in preparing you for your surgery and we look forward to seeing you soon!

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