Nervous About Anesthesia for Breast Augmentation?

I'm really nervous about my upcoming breast augmentation. My PS will only use general and not local anesthesia like I was hoping. I have little kids at home and although the risk maybe be slight, I don't want to be that unlucky person where there was a complication. I have thought about this for a few years and the only thing holding me back was fear of not waking up. My questions is this If I have been under general before without complication (wisdom teeth and d&c) will I be ok this time?!

Doctor Answers 27

Is local anesthesia really "safer" than general anesthesia for breast augmentation?

I have already answered this concern in another question your asked, but you obviously are concerned about anesthesia, as are many patients.

As a plastic surgeon who performs totally-elective cosmetic operations for my patients, I am acutely aware that what I do for my patients falls in the "want-to" rather than the "have-to" category, so the anesthesia and the operation BOTH need to be as safe and predictable as possible. In our nationally-accredited (AAAASF) on-site surgical facility we have offered fulll anesthesia services for over two decades, and we have performed over 16,000 operations with no deaths, heart attacks, or strokes. So we're good, and safe, and not perfect--we have to be thorough, and safe, and careful EVERY time. EVERY patient. That is true for the vast majority of ABPS-certified plastic surgeons who operate in their own nationally-accredited facilities, or at similarly-accredited hospitals or surgicenters.

I believe you should check out your anesthesia provider as well as your surgeon--make sure you have a Board-certified MD anesthesiologist or a fully-accredited CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist) with experience in office-based outpatient plastic surgical procedures.

I also believe that TIVA is superior to hospital-type inhalation anesthesia, which is why this is the preferred anesthetic regimen in our facility. For more information on this, click on the web reference link below. 

I also believe that having your anesthesia provider actually stay in the operating room during your procedure (not "supervising" from another room like the doctor's lounge) is critical to you having the best and safest anesthesia experience. Often, hospital-based plastic surgeons will often have MDAs who leave the OR during the case and "supervise" the CRNA or Anesthesia Aide who is actually doing your anesthesia. After all, you are young and your surgery is elective, so they "justify" being present in another OR where the patient is sicker, older, or more at-risk. Or that being "available in the doctor's lounge" is OK. Ask your anesthesia provider if they will be present in your operating room for the ENTIRE CASE. Ask if they are "covering" more than one case at the time your surgery is going on.

I tell you this not to add to your worries, but to ensure that you have all the information needed to make your own anesthetic as safe as humanly possible, which is indeed less risky than your automobile ride to the facility! Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 170 reviews

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Anesthesia risk


This is a very common question. As long as you are a healthy patient, the risks of general anesthesia are very low. Statistically, it is much safer than driving your car on the highway. Complications do occur, but they are rare. The main concern for anesthesia risks are your underlying health status and the complexity / duration of the surgery. As long as the planned surgery is under six hours and the estimated blood loss is not significant, the surgery should be very safe. A typical breast augmentation takes me under an hour to perform using general anesthesia. We use an CRNA who has 30+ years of experience. Just like flying, it is very safe, despite the risks and fears. Best to you. 


Bennett Yang, MD
Rockville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Afraid of General Anesthesia

I understand your concerns being a wife and mother as well.  I typically use general anesthesia for my breast augmentation patients.  It is a relatively short procedure, under 6 hours and if you are healthy, it's very rare to have any complications.  Make sure you disclose all of your health issues with your surgeon and board certified anesthesiologist and make sure your surgery is performed at an accredited surgery center.  General anesthesia is safe, you are more likely to get into a car accident on the way to surgery than have a complication with anesthesia.  ac

Angela Champion, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Risk of Anesthesia

Ok...well the truth about anesthesia is that it is extremely safe, if you do it correctly. It is advised to have your surgery done in a surgery center with a board-certified anesthesiologist. Ask a lot of questions and make sure you trust your doctor and good luck.

Rady Rahban, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Safety of Anesthesia used during Breast Augmentation Surgery

Your concerns are relatively common among men and women seeking cosmetic surgery, so don't feel bad for having these feelings. I've attached a great link for additional information written by our Board Certified Anesthesiologist which may help address your concerns.

Many anesthesiologists realize that patients can be nervous, and will take the time to address your concerns prior to your surgery. Knowing how they intend to handle your surgery can often lessen the anxiety you feel. Our surgery center often arranges for a fearful patient to meet and speak with their anesthesiologist well in advance of their procedure so anxiety will not build. You might try calling your surgeon to see if he or she can help arrange this for you.

In the meantime, try reading the attached article. And, you might also read my article entitled "I'm afraid of the 'awake' method good for me?" which can be found in my December 2009 blog article.


Robert N. Young, MD, FACS
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Nervous About Anesthesia for Breast Augmentation?

Hi! Thank you for your question,

I am Dr. Speron, a proud member of both the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS).  I am also certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Being skeptical about anesthesia is very common among patients. Anesthesia today is actually safer than it has ever been before. There are risks to anesthesia, but it is very rare. As long as you are healthy and follow the proper instructions that the surgeon and anesthesiologist has advised to you, then you have nothing to worry about. Also, make sure your anesthesiologist is board certified.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call us at 847.696.9900.

Best of luck and have a great day!


Dr. Speron

Sam Speron, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Anesthesia is very safe

Our number one concern when performing elective cosmetic surgery is patient safety.  It is extremely important that you do your home work regarding your plastic surgeon, anesthesia provider and surgical facility.  All should be board certified, fully accredited and experienced in performing breast enhancement surgery.

I would recommend talking to the anesthesia provider BEFORE your procedure about your concerns, your plastic surgeon can arrange a telephone conversation to help alleviate your anxiety.  Modern anesthesia is actually very safe, your chance of dying from a lightening strike or a shark attack is higher than dying from anesthesia!

It really makes no difference if you have a local/sedation/general anesthetic, as long as you have a board certified anesthesia provider at the head of the table taking care of you, you should be fine.

Good Luck!

David Finkle, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

Anesthesia is safe, but not risk-free

Thanks for your question. Of course you are nervous about having anesthesia. That is absolutely normal. Truthfully it is safer for a healthy person to have general anesthesia than it is to drive to their consult. Make sure you have a board certified anesthesiologist and that your surgery is being done at an accredited facility. Best of Luck!

M. Scott Haydon, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

General anesthesia vs IV sedation safety

General anesthesia is very safe in the hands of a Bd Certified Anesthesiologist, but IV sedation is a little safer. Unexpected mortality happens in about 1 out of 16,000 general anesthesia cases. I prefer IV sedation with tumescent type xylocaine/Marcaine infiltration because it facilitates the dissection, reduces the bleeding to essentially nothing and provides 24 hrs. of pain freedom post-op and it saves the patient over $1500. I have done over 40,000 IV sedation procedures in my career. If I had done all those under general anesthesia I would have had two deaths by now, Instead I haven't even had to hospitalize a single patient.  Dr Foster  Lake Tahoe Plastic Surgery

Lawrence Foster, MD (retired)
Sacramento Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Sedation With Local versus General

Breast augmentations are routinely performed safely with either intravenous sedation and local anesthesia or general anesthesia with little if any difference in the experience or recovery for the really should be your choice!!!  You should make sure any PS you choose is using a Board Certified Anesthesiologist with experience in an Accredited Surgical Facility and you should be O.K.  Make sure you're comfortable with your decision and enjoy the results... 

Eric Sadeh, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.