Could I Ever Wake Up During a Tummy Tuck? I Did During My C-Section.

When I had my emergency C-section, I remember feeling a lot of pain, so they put me to sleep and I remember waking up during the middle of the C- section. They told me they couldn't give me anymore anesthesia, because it would be fatal amount. I always wondered why I woke up. And does this mean that I might wake up during a tummy tuck procedure?

Doctor Answers 12

General anesthesia and tummy tuck surgery

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I believe that the best type of anesthesia for abdominoplasty( tummy tuck) would be to have general anesthesia, and I must admit that I have never had a patient wake up during a general anesthetic experience.  Once the surgery is completed the patient is then brought to the Recovery Room still sleepy, and once there the patients will usually wake up fully. This is the sequence for all of the general anesthesia operations that I have been involved with in my Plastic Surgical practice

I hope that any future experiences that you have with surgery will be more comfortable for you.  Good luck.

Waking up during surgery

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The chances of waking up during surgery are extremely rare when the surgery is performed under general anesthesia. This is completely different from sedation where you are asleep, but how deep you are may vary. Many C-sections are done under sedation and it is possible to be aware of what is going on. On the other hand if your surgeon is going to do your abdominoplasty under general anesthesia (which is most often the preferred way to do it) you should be fine and have no chance of waking up during the procedure. Just make sure you are having the procedure done with a well qualified surgeon and in the appropriate type of operative setting where you are under general anesthesia and not just sedation.

Tummy Tuck - Could I Ever Wake Up During a Tummy Tuck? I Did During My C-Section.

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Yes - but it's very unlikely.

You cannot reasonably compare an emergency C-section with an elective, planned tummy tuck.  From almost any standpoint; and certainly anesthesia.  During a C-Section you have not been fully prepared for the surgery, and there is the health of your child to take into consideration. 

During a tummy tuck, though, your anesthesiologist has every opportunity to take his or her time and make sure that you're sedated appropriately, or fully "asleep" if you're having general anesthesia.  And your MD will also monitor you throughout your procedure to make sure you're at the right level.

In short, despite your C-section experience, I think it's extremely unlikely that any part of your tummy tuck  will be like that - including being "awake."

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Awakening during anesthesia is uncommon.

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C-sections are often performed under a different type of anesthesia, commonly an epidural with some IV sedation. For a tummy tuck, you are likely to be under a true general anesthesia. It is very uncommon to "wake up" during a general anesthetic. If you have concerns, why not meet with the anesthesiologist prior to your surgery? This is the best way to calm your anxiety about surgery and allows them to walk you through what will happen.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Concerns about waking up during anesthesia

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There is always the theoretical risk that you could "wake up" (have awareness) during a tummy tuck but this would be exceedingly rare when performed under general anesthesia with the monitoring devices that we have now and when under the care of a competent anesthesiologist. The reality is that awareness during surgery virtually never happens.

The anesthsia administered for a C-section is far different than that for an elective tummy tuck including the issue of having to deal with 2 lives (you and baby) versus just you. Your previous experience should be totally irrelevant to future elective surgery.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Tummy Tucks Are Done Under General Anesthesia Not Sedation

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The difference in anesthesia between a c-section and a tummy tuck is that one is done with an epidural and sedation (c-section) and the other is done under general anesthesia. (tummy tuck) It is common to periodically emerge from a sedation anesthetic but that will not happen during a general anesthetic.

Waking Up During My Tummy Tuck

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Dear Ready4newme84,  Thank you for your question.  The type of anesthesia usually given during a c-section is very different than what you would receive for an abdominoplasty(tummy tuck).  With a c-section, there are two patients they have to be thinking about; you and your baby.  Usually during an emergency c-section, the anesthesiologist will use an epidural anesthetic supplemented with some IV-sedation.  It is not uncommon for the IV medication to wear off before the end of the procedure and more is usually then given.  The anesthesiologist try to avoid giving too much to avoid any problems with your baby but enough that you are comfortable-so it is a fine line they have to walk.  

With an abdominoplasty, the anesthesia most commonly used is general anesthesia and the chances of your "waking up" during the procedure are very small.  There are very rare cases of patients waking up during general anesthesia but again these are very rare and even then, a skilled anesthesiologist can very rapidly address this situation if it should occur.  

Given what we know about the chances of this occurring, I hope you will not let this worry keep you from achieving your desired goals.  Good Luck! 

Herluf G. Lund, Jr, MD
Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

Could I Ever Wake Up During a Tummy Tuck?

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This is a topic that is continuously fanned by the media when their ratings go down. So let's discuss it.

The word ANESTHESIA literally means the absence of sensation. But the field encompasses many different ways to make a patient comfortable while we inflict a considerable amount of pain to the body to deliver a baby, remove cancer, correct a deformity and - yes - make it more attractive.  During C-section, most women have a spinal to block out pain from the lower tummy and a sedative. We are limited in what we use on the mother because almost everything we give her goes into the baby and can hurt it as well as suppress its breathing. The mother is NOT supposed to be knocked out during a modern C-section merely to feel no major pain. When in the course of such operation there is significant bleeding, the anesthesiologist are further restrained in the use of some drugs because they cause a drop in blood pressure which worsens matters.

The situation is COMPLETELY different in Tummy Tuck surgery. I have done hundreds of Tummy Tuck operations and never had a patient wake or or worse, wake up and feel everything during surgery. This must be extremely rare and for all purposes unheard of when your anesthesia is done by a qualified anesthesiologist in a certified facility.

Peter A Aldea, MD

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Aware under anesthesia during tummy tuck

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Being aware or uncomfortable under general anesthesia during tummy tuck is certainly a rare event. There is a perception in the media that this is a risk frequently encountered. Proper anesthesia is not fatal and if administered with skill and attention you should not have to worry about being aware during your procedure.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Could I wake up during a tummy tuck?

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If you have general anesthesia for your tummy tuck, it is exceedingly unlikely that you will "wake up" during surgery.  Giving birth and having anesthesia for a c-section is very different from an elective surgery where there is no concern for a baby, and different methods of anesthesia were likely used.   Be sure to talk with your anesthesiologist about your concerns before surgery.

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.