General Anasthesia, is It Really That Safe?

I have wanted liposuction for years, and recently went for a consultation. I am SOO READY to do it!, but I am SO SCARED of General anasthesia. (too much greys anatomy I guess). Can someone please give me more detailed information on how it works and why its "so safe". Thank you

Doctor Answers 11

Extensive Research Has Found That It Is Really That Safe

Anesthesia relieves pain, gives you temporary memory loss of the surgery, and reduces anxiety with a combination of special drugs. Common drugs that are administered include propofol, morphine or fentanyl, and Succinylcholine. Related risks are very low. According to current statistics, the risk of death is 1 in 200,000 to 300,000. Other adverse events are also very rare.
All cosmetic surgical procedures are attended by your surgeon, nurses and a board certified anesthetist.  Before your surgery, you'll speak with your anesthetist about the anesthesia administered. Your health and medical history will also be examined so that they'll be able to know which anesthesia is suitable for you and at what strength. During the entire surgical process, you'll be closely observed by the anesthetist, who is present from the beginning to when you are wheeled into the recovery room, as well as a short time after. They'll monitor your heart rate, blood pressure and other vital signs continuously to ensure you are in good condition. If an adverse event occurs, every member of the surgical team, including the nurses, can readily assist you to protect your safety and well-being. Depending on your unique medical condition, your anesthetist will also take additional precautions to minimize any risks.
It's understandable that you have some anxiety regarding anesthesia, but in terms of statistics and how advanced the field of anesthesiology is today, you can be confident that it is very safe. Your anesthesia will be administered by a medical professional who has studied in a specialized medical field that one pursues following the completion of medical school. It requires four years of additional training in anesthesiology residency.  You'll be in capable hands.
Now, stop watching Grey's Anatomy! :)

Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 176 reviews

General Anesthesia is Very Safe for Healthy Patients

Statistically the risk of general anesthesia is about the risk of driving to your doctors office.

In my more than 25 years of practice performing hundreds of elective surgeries per year I have not had a problem If you have severe medical problems that could increase your risk and you should discuss those problems with your surgeon who can then advise you. However you should also ask if your procedure can be performed under IV sedation or Oral Sedation with local anesthesia instead of general anesthesia if you have a phobia. I would also suggest you speak with the anesthesiologist prior to your surgery.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

General Anasthesia, is It Really That Safe?

It really is very safe nowadays....In almost 20 years I have never had a problem .....ever! Your at a much higher risk driving in your car to the surgery center then having the surgery! And my feeling is that I'm not sure IV sedation is any safer. I review cases on occasion for our medical board and I have seen a number of problems with IV sedation because the patient developed breathing issues and there was no control of the airway or no one noticed....General is very safe

John J. Corey, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Is general anesthesia safe

Thanks for your question.  General anesthesia is extremely safe when administered by a a board certified anesthesiologist in an acredited surgery center if you are in good health.  The risks go up for patients with heart, lung, and neurological diseases.  Good luck.

Vishnu Rumalla, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 197 reviews

Lipo and anesthesia

Dear potential lipo patient,

  Unfortunately all surgeries need some kind of anesthesia.  There are few anesthesia options for liposuction - Local or so called 'tumescent', general anesthesia and in lower body lipo - epidural or spinal anesthesia. Local anesthesia sound reassuring however the injection is uncomfortable and the anesthesia is not complete and deep which compromises the end result. General anesthesia is the best, because you have no pain during the procedure and the surgeon can do a thorough job with no compromise of the end result. It is very safe as long as you have it done in an accredited surgery center, by a board certified plastic surgeon and anesthesiologist. Epidural and spinal anesthesia are very good for lower body lipo, however , certain patients do not like the idea of hearing the operating room sounds.  So do you due diligence.

        Good luck,

                                 Dr Widder

Shlomo Widder, MD
McLean Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 124 reviews

General anesthesia is really that safe for liposuction

The risk of anesthesia is very safe in an accredited facility administered by a qualified provider. Thousands of patients will have anesthesia daily for many types of procedures in the US without problems. Liposuction can be performed by local only, sedation, of full anesthesia depending on practice preferences and patient concerns. Some practices will rely on local alone to reduce cost, or perhaps they are not credentialed to work in a hospital operating room, such as with dermatologic surgeons and are less familiar with a surgical 'team' providing care. All options are safe, and all can give very good results.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Safe anesthesia options for liposuction

The first thing to point out is that there are several options for anesthesia with liposuction, and all of them are safe when done on healthy patients and in an accredited surgical facility by a qualified anesthesia provider. Options include tumescent (local numbing only), tumescent plus intravenous sedation (very common and what I most often do), and general. Advocates of tumescent lipo tend to emphasize risks of general anesthesia but it is very possible to get into trouble with tumescent. Just keep in miond that there are at least 3 options, not just tumescent vs. general.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

General anesthesia is somewhat safe but local anesthesia is over 1000 times safer!

There is no doubt that gen. anesthesia can be safe but since often you can get a better result with local anesthesia and be sooooo much safer, it is a little crazy doing lipo by gen anymore. We all did gen anesth 20-30 yrs ago but those of us who specialize in lipo switched to local yrs ago since we can have the patients stand up, turn, and be put in all positions during the lipo procedure so we can get the best results possible with the smaller canulas. Just think, no major nausea post op, faster recovery, walking out after the procedure rather than being wheelchaired with an emesis basin, back to work in 2 days etc... Many docs can still do a decent job of lipo under general anesthesia, but why take the risk. The risk of death from gen. anesthesia is greater than the risk from lipo alone! No matter where you go, always get it done in an accredited facility. Sincerely,

David Hansen,MD

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

General anesthesia risk for cosmetic surgery

Any board certified plastic surgeon that is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and who is abiding by their by-laws will be doing your surgery in an ambulatory surgery Center or hospital that is properly accredited using properly trained anesthesia and nursing staff.  I largely use nurse anesthetists, and have for almost 15 years.  I have only had to transport 1 patient from my ambulatory surgery Center to the hospital in this timeframe, and this has included thousands of patients undergoing IV sedation or general anesthesia.  I, of course, operate in the hospital regularly and patients have general anesthesia there as well. I caution every patient that general anesthesia and cosmetic surgery, although very safe, certainly have risks up to and including death.  Every patient who lies down on my operating table understands that.  Like most surgeons, I understand the implications of general anesthesia and only recommend it if it is necessary to get the procedure done properly. 

In answer to your question, general anesthesia is safe because the people who administer it, in the proper setting, are well trained on how to manage the intricacies of it.  Best of luck to you.

James E. Chappell, MD
Annapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

General Anesthesia, is It Really That Safe?

General anesthesia in a healthy patient and administered by a board certified anesthesiologist is quite safe. There have been several deaths around the country in patients who had only a local anesthesia administered by the doctor doing liposuction and overdosed the patient with the local. I have been using general anesthesia in my patients for over 20 years for liposuction as well as most other procedures and barring the occasional nausea ( not at all common any more), have had no problems.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 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.