How Does Anesthesia Work?

How Does Anesthesia Work?
Anesthetics are medications that help control pain during hand surgery or other types of surgery. Depending on the type of anesthesia, it may put you to sleep or it may just numb the area where you're getting surgery. Anesthesia is how your surgeon can control your breathing, blood pressure and heart rate during the procedure. 

There are many different types of anesthesia you could receive, and how you receive the medication (through an IV, injection, etc.) may vary. Here are how the different types of anesthesia work:
  • General anesthesia is when you will be unconscious. You may inhale gas or receive medication in your IV to put you to sleep. Your anesthesiologist will control how long you are asleep depending on the length of the surgery.
  • Local anesthesia will be used to numb a small area of the body where you are receiving surgery. It will be injected directly into the area. This means you will be wide awake during the surgery, but you won't feel any pain during the procedure. The numbing can last for as little as one hour or more than 8 hours, depending on the length of your surgery.
  • Monitored anesthesia care makes you more relaxed during surgery. It will keep you awake during the surgery, but you likely won't remember anything during the procedure. It will be given by your anesthesia team via an injection. 
  • Regional anesthesia puts parts of your body to sleep. The medication may be injected through a needle. It may also be through an IV line. The medication can give you between one and 24 hours of pain relief.
Before your surgery, your surgeon will explain everything to you, including the type of anesthesia you will receive. Ask as many questions as you need before the surgery begins, including questions about risks and your recovery.
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