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How long is it safe to be under general anesthesia?
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How long is it safe to be under general anesthesia?

24th Nov 2018

The majority of patients undergoing cosmetic surgeries are very curious and worried about general anesthesia. Especially for those who have never experienced general anesthesia before, it is natural to want to know more about its risks, side effects, and most importantly, its recovery time.

The risks and complications associated with general anesthesia are significant if not given enough attention. Age, medical history, and pre-operative complications also increase the likelihood of pitfalls linked with general anesthesia.

General anesthesia and how it works

Anesthesia is an essential procedure done right before undergoing surgery to let the patient become unconscious, unaware, and unable to experience the pain. General anesthesia is a combination of inhaled gases (anesthetics) and intravenous drugs. In fact, it is more than just staying unconscious for a time. From a medical point of view, it provides the analgesic (loss of pain memory), hypnotic (unconsciousness state), amnesic (memory loss) and immobility (loss of reflexes and temporary relaxation of muscles) effects to a patient.

General anesthesia directly sedates the brain. Once you fall asleep, you don’t remember what has been done within the past few hours. By this time, the anesthesiologist will monitor your blood pressure, pulse, and breath very closely as you fall asleep. The surgeon will decide how much the general anesthesia should be on the basis of the surgical procedure and other health concerns.

Chances of complications are always associated with surgical interventions. As the main goal of every surgeon is to keep the risks minimal, a shorter operation will prevent the patient from being under general anesthesia for too long. In several studies, it has been reported that 5-8 hours under general anesthesia is safe, but after this time limit, the risks of post-operative complications will be higher. Surgeons try not to exceed this limit in unless absolutely necessary.

Asking a surgeon regarding the safe limits of the procedure will give you a clear idea. Also, the procedure and the candidate’s health are considered important when it comes to the administration of general anesthesia.

In people with risk factors, 4 hours is a safe limit to be under general anesthesia. However, other factors such as a specific procedure, estimated recovery time, and safety considerations may affect how long you need to stay under general anesthesia. Staying too long on the operation table can also increase the risks of developing DVT (Deep Venous Thrombosis) due to lack of movement.

Your surgeons and anesthesiologists will take all the possible measures to cut down the risks and have a safer surgery to avoid unwanted and threatening outcomes. Discuss this concern with your doctor before undergoing the surgery.


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