Do the chances of not waking up increase with the amount of times a person is put under anesthesia?

Doctor Answers 5

Anesthesia and surgery

Anesthesia is very safe.  Having previous surgery safely should not impact further surgeries under anesthesia.


New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Do the chances of not waking up increase with the amount of times a person is put under anesthesia?

For a generally healthy person with a BMI of less than 30 and an anesthesia of less than 5 to 6 hours the risk of death from general anesthesia is in the order of one in 50,000.  Repeating general anesthesia does not increase the risk as long as there is a reasonable recovery period separating the anesthetics.  Discuss your concerns with your surgeon and the anesthetist as well as your internist if you have any medical issues before proceeding.  The beauty of general anesthesia these days is that it is relatively light yet safe and patients awaken amazed that their procedure has been completed so easily.  Enjoy your results.

Jon A Perlman M.D., FACS
Diplomate, American Board of Plastic Surgery
Member, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)
Beverly Hills, California

Jon A. Perlman, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Do the chances of not waking up increase with the amount of times a person is put under anesthesia?

I can understand your concern, it's one patients speak of with some regularity. The chances of a healthy patient dying from anesthesia given by an experienced and board certified anesthesiologist are about 50 times less than the chance of you dying in an auto accident on any given day. 

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Complications with Anesthesia

Thank you for your question. Complications with anesthesia depend on your underlying health, the length of the surgery, the risks of the surgery and where you have surgery. A generally healthy person undergoing an hour surgery/procedure associated with minimal risks and a board-certified anesthesiologist will most likely have less complications compared to someone who has multiple medical problems undergoing surgery that has high risks. Typically, your board-certified plastic surgeon will review your medical history and discuss the risks of surgery as they pertain to you. He/She may then send you to have pre-anesthesia testing to help identify your risks for anesthesia. You will also have a chance to discuss the risks and benefits of anesthesia with your anesthesiologist before the procedure. I recommend that you ask questions and make a decision based on your level of comfort and the expertise of your surgeon. Good luck.

Not waking up.

Unfortunately anything is possible, but what you're describing would be extraordinarily rare especially if you are healthy. At least in the U.S. elective outpatient surgery is limited to six hour max and is often less. Rare allergic reactions can occur from anesthesia, but  are extraordinarily unlikely. You should absolutely do what you are most comfortable with,there is no such thing as no risk, but interestingly I suspect the risk of driving would exceed the risk of not waking up from an anesthesia.

Adam Tattelbaum, MD
Washington DC Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 90 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.