If you’ve chosen plastic surgery or if you’re considering a cosmetic procedure, you’re probably excited about the improvements you anticipate, but you may have some reticence or anxiety about general anesthesia. Let our Boston liposuction surgeon explain.

Every cosmetic surgical procedure requires the use of local or general anesthesia. When a complicated surgery or multiple procedures are being performed, general anesthesia will be required.

EXACTLY WHAT DOES GENERAL ANESTHESIA DO?

General anesthesia makes a patient completely unconscious and unable to feel pain during a surgical procedure. It’s more than just being asleep; the anesthetized brain does not respond to reflexes or pain signals.

You aren’t alone if you’re more concerned about general anesthesia than you are about the surgery itself. In fact, one survey tells us that about one in three prospective cosmetic surgery patients share that concern.

Right up front: The statistics show that there is only a 0.01% – 0.016% chance of a fatal complication being linked to general anesthesia.

doctors notes

Among all surgical procedures that require general anesthesia, cosmetic procedures are some of the safest.

WHAT SHOULD SURGERY PATIENTS KNOW ABOUT GENERAL ANESTHESIA?

General anesthesia is quite safe, and it’s quite rare for a cosmetic surgery patient to have any issue at all with it. You may find these facts insightful:

  • Even patients who are older or in poor health routinely undergo anesthesia with no problem whatever.
  • Risk factors like obesity, smoking, or chemical dependency issues are often at the core of anesthesia-related complications. Be absolutely candid with your cosmetic surgeon about these issues and also about any medications you may be taking.
  • If a prospective plastic surgery patient is not a good candidate for the procedure due to risk factors, an experienced surgeon will not approve moving ahead with surgery.

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT DURING THE PROCEDURE?

When you arrive for your cosmetic surgery, your surgeon and your anesthesiologist will explain the procedure and the anesthesia to you. Anesthesia is administered using either an IV drip or an injection.

Once you’re under, your anesthesiologist may place a tube into your mouth and windpipe. This tube ensures that you’re getting sufficient oxygen and protects your lungs from blood and other fluids.

laying in a field dreaming

Most patients tell us that general anesthesia is a dreamlike or “surreal” feeling. And like most surgery patients, you probably will not remember a thing between the moment you’re anesthetized and the moment you awaken.

Anesthesia acts rapidly. Usually, the anesthesiologist will have you count backward, both to monitor your response to the anesthesia and to sidetrack you from thinking about any anxieties.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN EFFECTS OF GENERAL ANESTHESIA?

General anesthesia has four main effects:

  • Anesthesia makes you unconscious, as if you’re in a coma or a deep sleep.
  • Anesthesia makes you entirely immobilized.
  • Anesthesia’s analgesic effect keeps you from feeling any pain.
  • You won’t remember anything about your experience.

The anesthesiologist will be there the entire time you are “under.” He or she will be constantly monitoring your circulation, vital signs, fluid loss, and oxygen intake.

Everyone responds differently when they awaken from anesthesia, but most of the responses are typical and ordinary.

You may feel slightly “loopy” or intoxicated, and your emotional responses may be exaggerated.

Patients who find something funny have been known to laugh uncontrollably – for as long as ten or fifteen minutes. Others describe anesthesia’s after-effects as “interesting” or “fascinating.”

CAN THE AFTER-EFFECTS OF GENERAL ANESTHESIA BE NEGATIVE?

It’s not always entertaining. Some patients also experience nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, sore throat, and a powerful sense of exhaustion or fatigue.

Don’t worry about a thing. The lingering sensations of anesthesia fade quickly, and you’ll be completely safe until then.

operating table

After any cosmetic surgery, you can expect some swelling and some slight pain, but any pain or swelling should fade in just several days.

Additionally, after a cosmetic surgical procedure, have someone you trust stay with you for the first two or three days. You may feel fine, but having someone to help ensures that nothing unanticipated will disrupt your recovery.

WHY YOU MUST HAVE AN EXPERIENCED ANESTHESIOLOGIST

An anesthesiologist is a specially trained doctor who specializes in anesthesia.

Properly-administered general anesthesia is almost always safe provided that –, and this is absolutely imperative – you work exclusively with an experienced and qualified anesthesiologist.

For less invasive cosmetic procedures, conscious sedation or local anesthesia may be more appropriate and will be administered by the cosmetic surgeon.

If you’ll work only with a cosmetic surgeon certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS), you’ll have peace of mind.

Cosmetic surgeons certified by the ABCS partner exclusively with trained, experienced, and licensed anesthesiologists, and they perform surgery only in accredited surgical facilities.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DISCUSS WITH YOUR PLASTIC SURGEON – BEFORE ANESTHESIA?

Always adhere to your surgeon’s instructions regarding eating and drinking before surgery.

fasting before surgery

Fasting is usually required starting about six hours prior to any surgical procedure that requires general anesthesia. Your surgeon might allow you to take your regular medications with a small drink of water during the fasting period.

Discuss your medications with your doctor. Certain medications are not compatible with general anesthesia and may cause complications. Also, discuss any dietary supplements you may be using.

If you struggle with diabetes, usually you won’t take any oral diabetes medicine on the day of your cosmetic surgery. If you use insulin, your surgeon may recommend reducing your dosage.

If you have sleep apnea, be certain to tell your cosmetic surgeon. Your anesthesiologist will need to pay extra attention to your breathing during and subsequent to the surgery.

WHAT’S THE GOAL OF EVERY GOOD COSMETIC SURGEON?

Helping cosmetic surgery patients to a full and speedy recovery is a top goal of every good plastic surgeon. Stay in contact with your surgeon during your recovery period, and don’t skip the follow-up appointments.

It’s normal to have concerns about anesthesia, but if your Boston plastic surgeon is certified by the ABCS, you can be assured that your surgeon is fully trained, extensively experienced, and adheres to the highest medical and professional standards.

Making certain that your cosmetic surgeon is ABCS-certified is the best way to avoid any problems with general anesthesia or with any other aspect of your cosmetic surgery.

You’re getting cosmetic surgery to look your best, so make certain that your surgeon is one of the best and is ABCS-certified.