Almost all medical procedures involve some form of anesthesia which works and impacts risk differently.
Whether it’s wisdom tooth removal, a diagnostic colonoscopy or a coronary bypass surgery - they all involve some sort of anesthesia.
Since we cover elective surgeries, we’ve made it a point to know as much about anesthesia as we can so you have the resources you need to have more confidence about your procedure or ask your healthcare providers any questions you might have.
Anesthesia is treatment to not feel pain during medical surgeries that works by blocking sensory signals to the brain
An anesthesiologist is a doctor that evaluates, monitors & delivers anesthesia
An analgesic is pain medication, usually used in postoperative pain management
Who’s at higher risk of adverse reactions?
Older individuals, smokers and those with any of the following disorders:
Insulin / Weight
Heart / Brain
Kidney / Lung
Complications & Side Effects
Common: Body pain, nausea, chills, itching, sore throat, trouble urinating
Rare: Nerve damage, malignant hyperthermia, collapsed lung, anesthetic awareness, hives, trouble swallowing / breathing, paralysis, slurred speech
Before & After Anesthesia
Before: Expect to make some changes around smoking, blood pressure medication, ingesting food / drink / supplements leading up to your procedure as per your doctor’s orders
After: Have someone drive you home from the medical facility, follow your recommended rest / pain management regimen and do not drive, operate equipment, consume alcohol or make any important decisions for a day or two while the anesthesia leaves your system
There are 4 main types of anesthesia, in increasing strength - local, sedation, regional & general. We’ve compared them below so you can better understand how they work, what to expect, and what you need to consider about risks or recovery.
What is it? Numbing parts of the body for quick procedures
Will I be awake? Yes
How is it administered? Numbing cream, spray, needle
Commonly used in? Stitches, cavities, biopsies
Side effects / risks? Soreness at injection site, allergic reactions
What is it? Relaxing the muscles and inducing drowsiness
Will I be awake? Depends on type of sedation; mild - alert, moderate - drowsy, deep - asleep
How is it administered? Intravenous
Commonly used in? Wisdom teeth removal, laser eye surgery, endoscopy
Side effects / risks? Nausea, headaches, drowsiness
What is it? Numbing large areas of the body - causing partial paralysis
Will I be awake? Yes
How is it administered? Catheter or needle for a spinal block, epidural or peripheral nerve block
Commonly used in? C-section, hand surgery, knee surgery
Side effects / risks? Nausea, headache, low blood pressure, itching, bleeding, infection, seizure, trouble urinating, nerve damage
What is it? Being unconscious & having slowed down body function
Will I be awake? No - an anesthesiologist monitors your heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels & other vitals
How is it administered? Breathing tube / mask, intravenous
Commonly used in? Major / invasive procedures of the head, chest or abdomen
Side effects / risks? Slowed reflexes, impaired judgment, drowsiness, sore throat, nausea, chills, confusion