What Is Anesthesia?
Anesthesia is a general term that indicates the absence of feeling. This may be accomplished with ointments or creams (topical), numbing injections (local), IV sedation (“twilight”), or going to sleep (“general”).
Anesthesia is often a concern for patients. However, each version is quite safe in the right setting and for an appropriate patient. Important factors in producing safe surgery and recovery include:
- Safe facility – Our surgical facility is AAAASF-certified, which means it has been thoroughly evaluated and tested for the highest safety standards. Our operating room is the only private facility with this designation in Southwest Montana.
- Proper Patient Selection – Our patients are carefully evaluated and with that information the right setting and anesthesia for the procedure are selected.
- Excellent Anesthesia Care – Gallatin Plastic Surgery uses only Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) with extensive training and experience.
- Open Communication – Dr. McDaniel believes in open communication and mutual respect between members of the operating team. Any concerns are discussed and the best plan is carried out for your safety.
What Role Does Anesthesia Play In My Surgery?
Prior to the day of surgery our certified anesthetist will call you after reviewing your chart. She will discuss your medical history, allergies, medications, previous surgeries, and all other relevant history.
Your anesthetist will talk to you on the day of surgery to review the role of anesthesia in surgery and answer any questions that you have. You will be given medication in your IV to help you relax before going to the OR.
Once in the operating room and ready, an additional medication will be given through your IV to drift you off to sleep, and sleep will be maintained through IV medications and anesthetic gas.
After surgery, your recovery nurse and anesthetist will monitor your vital signs as you progress from asleep to awake.
The evening of your operation your anesthetist will call you or your care provider to ensure that you are feeling well and any concerns are answered before your appointment with Dr. McDaniel the following day.
Tell Me More About Different Types of Anesthesia
Some degree of anesthesia may be accomplished with creams or ointments that are applied to the tissue surface. These medications are versions of the same numbing medications that are injected in local anesthesia (see below). Mucosal surfaces, such as line the mouth, are much more effectively numbed than the skin. Therefore, dental work is often done with a combination of topical and local anesthesia. Because skin is less well numbed using topical anesthesia, use of these medications is limited to decreasing discomfort from injections, such as Botox and fillers.
Minor procedures and revisions are often performed using numbing medication that is injected through the skin. Numbing effects last between 2-8 hours, depending on the medication used. Changing the numbing medication chemically to increase its pH and injecting slowly help to decrease discomfort.
Pressure and temperature changes will still be felt with numbing medication, but no pain should be experienced.
Absence of nausea, sleepiness, and often a decreased cost are advantages of local anesthesia.
Somewhere between local and general anesthesia is IV sedation. This technique uses a combination of medication through an IV to decrease awareness and discomfort with injected numbing medication. This may allow a more significant operation to be performed without “going under.” As with local anesthesia, this decreases the risk of nausea and sleepiness after surgery.
IV sedation may have a small benefit financially, although often times the procedure takes longer to complete. Sometimes patients undergoing IV sedation have to be converted to general anesthesia. A common misconception is that sedation is safer than general – this is not generally the case.
“Going to sleep” for surgery is referred to as “general.” Drastic improvements over the last 100 years in evaluation, techniques, and medications have made general anesthesia very safe. In fact, serious complications are very, very rare. Operations are able to be performed more quickly, pain control more effective, and oftentimes a better overall experience with this technique. We are certified for all types of anesthesia, including general, at our AAAASF-certified operating facility.