For most people considering a cosmetic procedure, one of the biggest concerns is going under anaesthesia and the potential risks associated with it.
Whether you’ve experienced anaesthesia or not, knowing what to expect may help the process go more smoothly, so we’ve put together some useful information to know before your procedure.
What is anaesthetic?
General anaesthesia is a state of controlled unconsciousness. During a general anaesthetic, medicines are used to send you to sleep, so you’re unaware of surgery and do not move or feel pain while it’s carried out.
General anaesthesia is essential for some surgical procedures where it may be safer or more comfortable for you to be unconscious.
How does anaesthetic work?
General Anaesthesia is a medical technique that has been used in hospitals for years. It works by stopping the nerve signals that keep you awake from reaching your brain, sending you into a state of induced sleep. After the anaesthetic has worn off, the nerve signals reach your brain as normal, and you wake up as consciousness returns.
Before having an operation, you’ll meet a specialist doctor called an anaesthetist to discuss which anaesthetic is most suitable for you.
Your anaesthetist will look at your medical history and will ask whether anyone in your family has had problems with anaesthesia. They’ll also ask about your general health and lifestyle, including whether you:
- have any allergies
- smoke or drink alcohol
- are taking any other medicine
Your anaesthetist can answer any questions you have. Let them know if you’re unsure about any part of the procedure or if you have any concerns. You should be given clear instructions to follow before the operation, including whether you can eat or drink anything in the hours leading up to it.
The anaesthetist administers your anaesthetic through a cannula often in your arm or hand. They will place an oxygen mask over your head and will then ask you to count backwards from 10 and before you know it you will be asleep.
Are there any side effects?
General anaesthetics have some common side effects. Your anaesthetist should discuss these with you before your surgery.
Most side effects occur immediately after your operation and do not last long. Possible side effects include:
- feeling sick and vomiting – this usually occurs immediately, although some people may continue to feel sick for up to a day
- shivering and feeling cold – this may last a few minutes or hours
- confusion and memory loss– this is more common in elderly people or those with existing memory problems; it’s usually temporary, but occasionally can be longer lasting
- bladder problems – you may have difficulty passing urine
- dizziness– you will be given fluids to treat this
- bruising and soreness – this may develop in the area where you were injected or had a drip fitted; it usually heals without treatment
- sore throat– during your operation, a tube may be inserted either into your mouth or down your throat to help you breathe; afterwards, this can cause a sore throat
- damage to the mouth or teeth – a small proportion of people may have small cuts to their lips or tongue from the tube, and some may have damage to their teeth; you should tell your anaesthetist about any dental work you have had done
How safe is anaesthetic?
It is important to note that there are risks with any type of surgery. At Pall Mall, we will always conduct a general health assessment before any patient goes into surgery, to make sure they are fit to have an anaesthetic and to ensure there are no underlying health issues.
General anaesthesia is very safe and has been used for several years in hospitals. Most people, even those with significant health conditions, are able to undergo general anaesthesia itself without serious problems.