Dr. Shenker answers common questions about your anesthetic experience.
When it comes to the worries people have surrounding their cosmetic surgery experience, the issue at the top of the list is usually anesthesia. While understandable, I believe it to be mostly misplaced worry. Like many of the issues surrounding surgery in general, and cosmetic surgery in particular, much of the hype surrounding anesthesia has been generated by myth, rumour, hearsay and the movies.
The concerns I hear range from “will the intravenous hurt?” to “what happens if I wake up during surgery?” to everyone’s biggest concern, “what if I don’t wake up at all?”
Of all the issues to be concerned about surrounding an elective cosmetic surgical procedure, the anesthetic issues should rightly be positioned at the bottom of the list, not at the top.
Here’s how the process works with us at The Cosmetic Surgery Clinic: thoughts and decisions around the anesthesia actually begin at the time of your initial consultation, when a complete medical history is obtained. Our staff always have their radars on and antennas up looking for any issues in the medical history that might present unique challenges for the anesthesiologist.
How is your health overall? What medications do you take? Do you have any allergies? Do you have heart troubles? Do you have any breathing troubles? And, most importantly, have you ever had an anesthetic before and how did it go? If there’s even the slightest hint of any issue, a preoperative anesthetic consultation is arranged so that our anesthesiologist can review your history and make appropriate plans.
Speaking of our anesthesiologist, we are blessed to work with Dr. Paul Nicholas, anesthesiologist extraordinaire! Dr. Nicholas has been our chief of anesthesia since we opened our doors in November of 2007. Dr. Nicholas has over 30 years of experience giving anesthetics. There is nothing he hasn’t seen and hasn’t done. Dr Nicholas also has a unique advantage over many other anesthesiologists, because before moving into the specialty of anesthesia, he practiced family medicine for many years. During that time he learned how to take care of patients in the most global sense and then transferred those skills to his anesthesia career. This exceptional skill set is almost unheard of in the anesthetic world today, and we are very fortunate to have Dr. Nicholas working with us.
As for the particulars, no, the intravenous doesn’t hurt when it goes in because Dr. Nicholas uses a special technique to numb the skin before inserting the intravenous catheter. In addition to that, our operating room team has some special techniques to take your mind off of the process so it is not only painless but actually comfortable.
Will you wake up during surgery? Again, this is primarily the subject of Hollywood movies and has very little basis in reality. Has it ever happened to anyone, anywhere? Yes. Do we see it in our operating room at The Cosmetic Surgery Clinic? No. Why? Because there are specific anesthesia techniques to minimize this risk and it just simply doesn’t happen at our facility.
Another common concern is worrying about feeling nauseated after waking up from an anesthetic. This is, in fact, something we do worry about, because it’s uncomfortable for patients and nobody likes throwing up. When we recently reviewed our incidence of nausea and vomiting in the recovery room, we were delighted to discover that this sort of unpleasantness happens in our facility about 10 times less frequently than what is published in the anaesthesia literature. How do we avoid the unpleasantness of nausea after surgery? Again, Dr. Nicholas is a wizard with his use of the anesthetic medications that make people feel unwell after surgery. Giving an anesthetic is partly art and partly science. With the right combination of each, our patients wake up feeling remarkably good.
And now we come to the doozy of all anesthetic worries: what if I don’t wake up at all? Suffice it to say that once you have had a full consultation with us, you’ve had your medical history reviewed, you’ve had all of your appropriate preoperative tests, and you had any necessary consultation with Dr. Nicholas before surgery, the risk of death from anesthesia is smaller than your risk of dying in a car accident on a regional highway. It is roughly equivalent to your chances of getting struck by lightning, getting hit by a meteorite falling from the sky or being abducted by aliens.
As with any operation, there are legitimate concerns surrounding cosmetic surgery procedures. Is the procedure right for me? Did I choose the right size of breast implants? Should I have a tummy tuck or liposuction? All of these are legitimate concerns that we will help you understand. Of all the worries you may bring with you on the day of your surgery, rest assured that anesthetic need not be one of them.