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I’m Having Surgery

Understanding Your Anesthesia Care

If you need surgery, you may be wondering what to expect. This can be a stressful time in your life, but rest assured, we are there for you every step of the way. Our board-certified anesthesiologists are trained to assist you throughout all aspects of your care. Read below to find answers to questions that may be coming up.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an anesthesiologist?
We are medical doctors just like your surgeon or primary care physician, but we’ve gained additional years of training after medical school specifically for keeping patients safe while under anesthesia. We have an in-depth knowledge of how the entire human body normally works as well as how it functions during periods of stress brought about by surgery or illness. This knowledge, along with our expert training in pain management, performing procedures from IVs to epidurals, and delivering anesthetic medications, allows us to be the guardian you deserve during your time of need.
What are the different types of anesthesia?

The type of anesthesia you will receive will depend on the type of surgical procedure you need as well as your medical history. Your anesthesiologist will create a plan tailored specifically to you. Here are the common types of anesthesia:

Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC)/Sedation: Monitored Anesthesia Care (MAC) means that you will receive sedating medications while being monitored by your anesthesia team. You will be sleepy and comfortable but not completely asleep like you would be under general anesthesia. Typically, your anesthesiologist or surgeon will use numbing medications to keep you comfortable. Because you are not under general anesthesia, you may have some memory of the procedure.

Regional Anesthesia: Regional anesthesia involves numbing an area of the body so that surgery can be performed without pain. This may involve injecting numbing medication around a group of nerves (for the upper or lower extremities) or in the spine (such as an epidural or spinal block).

General Anesthesia: General anesthesia is a complete loss of consciousness so that you are unaware of any sensations or pain. This is accomplished with a combination of intravenous medications and inhaled gases. This may require the placement of a breathing device.​

Why can't I eat before surgery?

Anesthesia relaxes your muscles, including those that prevent food and liquids in your stomach from entering your lungs. If food or beverages do enter your lungs, it can cause life-threatening complications. We ask that you not eat or drink for specific periods to ensure that your stomach is empty before you receive anesthesia.

What medications should I take the day of surgery?

You will receive a call from one of the pre-surgical nurses to review your medication list. It is important to follow the directions carefully. If you are unsure, please bring your medications with you on the day of your surgery.

What are the risks of anesthesia?

All types of anesthesia involve some risk.  However, major complications are rare. Common side effects of anesthesia include; sore throat, upset stomach, sleepiness, headache, chills, confusion and muscle aches. Risks associated with anesthesia depend on your age, health, type of surgery and type of anesthesia. Your anesthesiologist will review your specific risks before surgery.

Will I get sick to my stomach?

Nausea, or an upset stomach, and vomiting can be common side effects after undergoing anesthesia. Your anesthesiologist will provide medications to help prevent and treat these symptoms. Please let your anesthesiologist know if you have had issues with an upset stomach or vomiting after anesthesia in the past.

Will I have pain?

It is normal and expected to have some discomfort after surgery.  We believe it is of great importance to manage your pain adequately.  Our anesthesiologists provide pain medications and numbing medications to help reduce the amount of discomfort you feel.  Your treatment plan will depend on your medical history and what surgery you are having.  Your anesthesiologist will review their pain plan with you before surgery.

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Will I remember the surgery?

Awareness under general anesthesia is very rare. Certain situations, such as emergency surgery, can increase the risk.  Some types of anesthesia, such as sedation or “twilight” anesthesia where you are not completely asleep, may come with some awareness of the procedure room. However, in these cases, we ensure you remain comfortable and free of pain.

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What if I still have more questions?

If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out using the Contact Us link at the top of our website. Additionally, the American Society of Anesthesiologists patient resource center may have the answers to your questions, too.