As a plastic surgeon, I often meet patients before their aesthetic surgery who are worried about the general anesthetic. This fear is perfectly understandable: anesthesia is a complex and mysterious subject for many people!
Here are a few tips to help overcome this fear and be better prepared for the anesthesia.
The importance of the consultation
During your first consultation, we will of course discuss the entire process of your surgical procedure, including the anesthetic. Indeed, the consultation is an opportunity to meet you, talk, assess your state of health, and answer all your questions, including about the anesthetic.
In any case, once the date of your operation is set, it is necessary to make an appointment with the anesthesiologist. A minimum statutory period of 48 h is necessary between the pre-anesthesia consultation and the operation.
The pre-anesthesia consultation is compulsory and essential before aesthetic surgery.
During this consultation, the anesthesiologist will:
- Accurately assess your general state of health: if there is a history of surgery, the consultation can be conducted via video call. In any case, you will discuss your medical and surgical history to determine if there are any risk factors for the anesthetic. Depending on your case, the anesthesiologist may require further examinations (cardiac assessment).
- Review the medicinal treatments you are taking to assess the risk of interactions with the anesthetic but also with the medication prescribed for the postoperative period.
- Anticipate the pain and adapt the intensity of the anesthesia.
- Discuss with you, the patient, the different types of anesthesia available and determine the most suitable with regard to your state of health and the operation scheduled. Indeed, in most cases the anesthesia is general but in some cases milder anesthesia (neuroleptanalgesia or sedation) is possible.
Fear of the anesthetic before aesthetic surgery: why and what can be done?
Fear of the anesthetic can be an indicator of anxiety in general or fear of the unknown. This fear is perfectly normal and the care teams are here to help you get over it.
Fear of the anesthetic can have several causes, in particular:
- The fear of losing control or not waking up after the operation.
- Apprehension of the potential pain or nausea after the anesthetic.
- Prior painful or traumatizing experience with anesthesia.
It is, therefore, essential to talk to your surgeon and the anesthesiologist to discuss your worries and your medical history.
As healthcare professionals, we are here to reassure anxious patients. If necessary, we will explain in detail the safety measures implemented to minimize the risks and we will tell you about the options available for managing the pain after the operation.
What does a general anesthetic involve?
A general anesthetic is administered by a qualified anesthesiologist who is trained to monitor and maintain the vital functions of the patient during the operation.
Before the operation, you must be fasted for at least 6 hours. You are then taken to the operating room and the general anesthetic is administered either intravenously or via a mask depending on what was decided with the anesthesiologist during the pre-anesthesia consultation.
The anesthesia induces a sleep-like state that is maintained for the whole operation, and then you are moved to the recovery room.
Should I be scared about the anesthetic?
The short answer is no, general anesthesia is considered extremely safe, and serious complications are exceptional. Anesthesiologists are trained to assess the risks and adapt the anesthesia depending on the individual needs of the patient.
However, patients must talk about all their concerns and their medical history with their surgeon and their anesthesiologist before the operation. Transparency is essential.
How to overcome your fear of the anesthetic?
- Be informed: Understanding the risks and the benefits of the anesthetic will give you a better picture so you are better prepared.
- Try relaxation techniques: meditation, deep breathing, or visualization can help calm patients and reduce their anxiety.
- Talk to people around you: talking to other people who have already had an anesthetic and know what it is like can provide comfort and reassurance. Do not hesitate to talk about your fear with a friend, your companion, or a member of your family for additional emotional support and to share your experiences.
- Trust the medical team: that is what we are here for! We naturally feel more confident when we know we are in safe hands with a qualified medical team.
5 tips to be better prepared for the anesthetic
- Firstly, to ensure that all goes well, it is imperative to follow the preoperative instructions given by the anesthesiologist regarding fasting to avoid any complications during the operation.
- Ask questions: whether it is me, your plastic surgeon, or the anesthesiologist during your consultation, to clarify any potential grey areas and concerns.
- Be honest about your medical history and your current medicinal treatments
- Why not try hypnosis? Hypnosis is an alternative technique that can help patients manage anesthesia-related anxiety better. It can be particularly beneficial for people with a phobia of anesthesia or who have had prior negative reactions to a general anesthetic. During a hypnosis session, the hypnotherapist guides the patient into a state of deep relaxation and concentration. In this state, the patient is more receptive to positive suggestions and can learn to change their thoughts and emotions.
- Take the time to recover: the body is under a lot of strain after a general anesthetic so schedule time to recover after the operation by following the post-operative instructions and avoiding any intense physical activity. Get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and drink lots of water. In short, get lots of rest!
Fear of the anesthetic before aesthetic surgery is perfectly understandable and common. To ensure everything goes well, it is important for patients to understand the different stages of a general anesthetic and to tell the team, the anesthesiologist, and myself about any concerns.
By following our advice, you will be better prepared for your anesthetic and can concentrate on your post-operative recovery… and consequently appreciate better the outcome of your procedure.
In any case, we are here to answer any questions you may have!