Understanding Anesthesia Can Help Surgery Be Less Frightening

One of the most common reasons people fear surgical procedures is actually fear of anesthesia instead of the procedure itself! The good news is knowledge can be a powerful tool for keeping anxiety about surgical procedures in check so you can remain healthy and happy.

It is important to understand that there are two types of anesthetic used depending upon the surgery you need to have.

Local anesthetic (LA) is an anesthetic used to block pain from a certain part of the body, but it does not put you to sleep. Generally, this anesthetic is given in the form of an injection into the area which needs to be numbed. Usually, this anesthetic is used during minor surgical procedures where deep muscle relaxation is not necessary, and the patient will go home soon after. Some examples of local anesthetic most people are familiar with would include an epidural given before a cesarean section or the shots a dentist puts in your gum before extracting a tooth or giving a filling.

Additionally, local anesthetic is very safe; it is considered to have few major risks when properly used. In very large doses, it can be toxic, but this is extremely rare. People are usually able to go home within a few hours or a day after depending upon the procedure and their doctor’s wishes.

General anesthetic (GA) is the anesthetic used when a larger surgical procedure is required. This anesthetic makes a person unconscious. Being unconscious means the patient is neither be aware of what is happening nor feels any pain, which is helpful for longer surgeries. It also induces temporary paralysis to keep your body still so the surgeon can perform your procedure without fear of movement.

General anesthetic is both common and safe if used correctly. While serious risks are possible during surgery, if a person is in good health and is working with a good physician these risks are far less likely to occur. Usually, any effects are minor such as localized numbness for a short time or being nauseous.

General anesthetic lets your muscles relax completely and will ensure you do not remember anything from your procedure including any discomfort. A trained doctor practiced in the use of anesthesia called an anesthesiologist will keep an eye on your vital signs and monitor your body’s reaction to keep you safe during surgery.