I'm Very Worried About Waking Up During Breast Augmentation Surgery

I am apprehensive for breast augmentation surgery - although I am located very close to both Birmingham, AL surgeons and Atlanta, GA surgeons who are known to be very reputable. The money is not a problem and I have wanted to do this ever since I had my daughter (she is now 8), I am 27. But, I have severe concerns about waking up during surgery, or even not waking up at all. Let me preface this with the fact that I have been put under completely before with a C-section. Can anyone help?

Doctor Answers 12

Intraop awareness

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Southrn princess: You should ask your surgeon and anesthesiologist about their experience with "intraop awareness".  To circumvent this issue, our anesthesiologists always use the BIS monitor, which is a device which measures brain wave activity (electroencephalogram).  Since implementing this additional monitoring device, I haven't had a single complaint of intraop awareness and the rapidity of emergence from anesthesia is excellent.  This technique is gaining popularity, so it may be available at either Birmingham and/or Atlanta.  Good luck.

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Waking up during breast augmentation surgery

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You might want to consider having your breast augmentation procedure done under local anesthesia where you are not put to sleep (general anesthesia) and don't have to be awakened from the anesthesia. This is done with monitored IV sedation so that you likely won't have any memory of the procedure or putting in the local anesthetic. 

The risk of general anesthesia is quite low but the risk of local anesthesia with IV sedation is even lower, plus the effects on your system are much less. Another advantage is pain control is not as much of an issue because the breast can remain asleep at the end of the operation under local anesthesia. There is also a huge cost difference. 

Not all plastic surgeons are trained in local anesthetic techniques as well as the IV sedation techniques required. They may not give you a choice for your anesthesia. Board certified plastic surgeons doing local anesthesia with IV sedation also require accreditation for their facility if done outside the hospital or outpatient facility. 

Liposuction, mastopexy, and reduction of the breast can also be done under local anesthesia with IV sedation. 

Scott L. Replogle, MD
Boulder Plastic Surgeon

Select a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Member of ASPS

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Board Certified Plastic Surgeons who are members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons are required to operate only in certified facilities (certification by AAAASF, JCAHO, State Organizations or Medicare).  This will minimize the likelihood of any anesthetic practice that would make waking up during surgery.

Rest easy:)

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Breast augmentation surgery is very safe

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It is not at all uncommon that young mothers having aesthetic surgery are fearful of leaving their babies. Rest assured, this is a very safe operation with low risks of anesthetic complication or we as surgeons would not be doing it. After all, breast surgery of this sort is completely elective and only done when risk is extremely low. In 12 years of practice, I have not had one patient wake up during surgery.  There are many things that are done in the operating room to make sure that you stay asleep during the operation. You should be able to talk to your surgeon about your concerns and get an explantation of what anesthesia techniques will be used to ensure that you remain comfortably asleep. Please do make sure that your surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and that he or she is working in a fully accredited surgical facility with anesthesiologists certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology.

Elizabeth Slass Lee, MD
Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

You will wake up after breast augmentation surgery but not during!

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Although there are a few different ways to do the anesthesia for breast augmentation, all of them involve multiple systems of monitoring to keep you safe and comfortable. You should of course have the surgery in an accredited surgical facility. To put it in perspective, your drive to the facility will be the riskiest part of your day.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Waking up during breast augmentation surgery

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Anesthesia services in today's world are extremely sophistocated as long as you're working with board certified plastic surgeons. Many board certified surgeons have their own operating room which allows them to be in complete control of there operations. Our choice of anesthesia services is based on proper training and first class equipment. Because we are doing primarily aesthetic, or cosmetic surgery, all of our attention is dedicated to the highest form of service for our patients. Hospitals do a very good job, however they have such a wide range of patients with different types of problems, that they may not have as much experience with this type of surgery. Privately owned surgery centers that are certified by at least two certifying groups are your best bet, as long as your surgeon is a board certified plastic surgeon.

E. Anthony Musarra II, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon

Anesthesia and surgery

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It is extremely unlikely that you would wake up during breast augmentation surgery during the procedure. The anesthesiologists I use, and I am sure  most of the lalstic surgeons, use are exceptional.  The medications and technology available today, I think almost completely eliminates any such risk.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Awakening during anesthesia for breast augmentation

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This has occurred in the past, but, thanks to advances in anesthesia monitoring, is almost unheard of now. Most certified Anesthesiologists at certified facilities use a BIS Monitor. They place this device on your forehead to monitor your brain waves. This tells them how asleep you are. By using it, they can tell that you are not too deep (causing problems awakening) or too shallow (likely to awaken). Discuss with your surgeon who will provide your anesthesia. Make sure it is a certified Anesthesiologist and that the procedure will be done in a certified facility. Before surgery, discuss your fears with the Anesthesiologist. Most of the time you will have a chance to do this a week or so before surgery.

Robert T. Buchanan, MD
Highlands Plastic Surgeon

No one wakes up during surgery or doesn't wake up at all.

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It's a fiction that people wake up during surgery when done in a JCAHO ceritifed facility and with a Board Certified Anethesiologist.

Pick the right doctors and you'll sleep like a baby and wake up when they want you to. You'll be fine and you won't die.

Check all the credentials and you'll have a great surgical experience.

G. Gregory Gallico III, MD
Boston Plastic Surgeon

Waking Up during breast Augmentation

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Waking up, or worse feeling the surgery but being unable to move, are EXTREMELY RARE. The ONLY time they may be encountered is in massive injury surgery when the patient is actively bleeding and the anesthesia may be light to prevent losing blood pressure and the patient and even in such extreme cases they are rare. The likelihood of you being awake during cosmetic surgery done by a professional team is as close to zero as any event in Medicine can get.

You may want to speak with your Plastic surgeon's anesthesiologist to assure yourself. But I really would not worry about it. It is an irrational fear.

Good Luck.

Dr. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

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.