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Types of Anesthesia

There are three main categories of anesthesia: general, regional and local with varying levels of sedation.

With general anesthesia, you are unconscious and have no awareness of the surgical procedure or other sensations. If you have regional anesthesia, your anesthesiologist injects medication near a cluster of nerves to numb only the area of your body that requires surgery. You may remain awake or you may be given a sedative. Your anesthesiologist, in consultation with your surgeon, will determine the best type of anesthesia for you, taking your desires and medical history into consideration whenever possible. These options will be discussed during your preoperative interview with the anesthesiologist.

During minimal sedation, you will feel relaxed, and you may be awake. You can understand and answer questions and will be able to follow your physician's instructions. This type of anesthesia is most commonly used for eye surgery such as cataract extraction, retinal detachment repair, glaucoma surgery and some corneal transplants.

When receiving moderate sedation, you will feel drowsy and may even sleep through much of the procedure, but will be easily awakened when spoken to or touched. You may or may not remember being in the procedure room. This is the type of anesthesia for some general plastic surgical procedures and ocular plastics.

During deep sedation, you will sleep through the procedure with little or no memory of the procedure room. Your breathing can slow, and you might be sleeping until the medications wear off. With deep sedation, supplemental oxygen is often given.

With any of the three levels of sedation, you may receive an injection of local anesthetic to numb the surgical site. You may or may not feel some discomfort as this medication is injected, depending on how sedated you are.

If you have received minimal or moderate sedation only, you will most commonly go to a may be able to go home once the procedure is finished. If you have received moderate or deep sedation, you will probably require more time to recover. Often this may be within an hour. In the recovery room, you will be monitored until the effects of the medication wear off.

Any after-effects of the medication must be minimal or gone before you will be discharged from the facility to go home. You will not be allowed to drive yourself, so arrangements should be made for a responsible adult to provide you with transportation. If you think you may need some assistance, you might consider having someone stay with you on the day of surgery.

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