My name is Dr. Steve Yun and I'm the anesthesiologist for Dr. Lavinia Chong and have been for the last eight years. In terms of the different types of anesthesia, there are typically three traditional types of anesthesia. The first is general anesthesia where the patient is put completely asleep, put on a breathing machine with a breathing tube. That's commonly used in hospital operations for major surgeries. The second type of anesthesia is regional anesthesia. And the most common example of that is an epidural given to moms who are in labor. And then the third type of anesthesia is what we call a monitored anesthesia care, or more commonly in layman's terms twilight anesthesia. That's where the patient is given sedation so that they're comfortably asleep but it is not so deep so as to require a breathing tube or heavier medicines and requires you to be put on a breathing machine.

So of the three types of anesthesia we almost always use twilight sleep or monitored anesthesia care in Dr. Chong's office. This type of anesthesia is well-suited for her procedures and it provides the most amount of patient comfort with the least amount of side effects.

To prepare for anesthesia, it's important to maintain your normal health regimen, so keep taking the medicines that you usually take unless you're specifically instructed by your doctor to stop taking medicines. The most common example of medicines to stop taking before surgery are blood thinners, such as aspirin or Coumadin and certain herbal medications. The situation will vary from patient to patient, so, again, make sure that you talk to Dr. Chong or myself and we'll go over your medicines with you specifically and make sure that we continue the medicines you need to continue and stop the medicines you need to stop.

In addition to that, the night before surgery you want to make sure that you have a good night's sleep and have nothing to eat or drink after midnight prior to your day of surgery. For your safety, we like to have your stomach as empty as possible so as to reduce the risk of aspiration or having stomach contents go into your lungs, which can cause a very serious pneumonia. That's a very rare complication but, again, we try to make things as safe as possible. So, again, nothing to eat or drink after midnight before your surgery, with the only exception that you may be allowed to take certain medicines with a small sip of water. And, again, we'll go over those specific medicines with you in the days before surgery.

Going under anesthesia, first of all, is scary. It's a very normal human reaction. You can be afraid of going under anesthesia and it's a very common fear that we as anesthesiologists face. And I understand it is anxiety provoking and it is scary. We just want to reassure you and let you know that first and foremost, in our office, the first priority is patient safety. So before anything else, we have to do things in an absolutely safe manner and your safety is the most important thing to us. I'm very proud to say that we have a perfect safety record thus far in Dr. Chong's office in the last eight years I've been working with her. We've had no major anesthesia complications and a large part of that is due to the diligence of Dr. Chong and her staff. So first and foremost is patient safety.

So in the process of going to sleep, we'll do some things preoperatively to make sure that your health is optimized for the surgery. We'll talk to your primary care doctor, for example. We'll make sure that your medicines are up to date, and then when you actually come back to the OR and start the process of going to sleep, we'll make sure that we put on all the monitors that are necessary to ensure your safety, including a blood pressure cuff, continuous pulse oximetry, which measures the concentration of oxygen in your blood, and also continuous EKG, or electrical cardiogram monitoring. In addition to that, we have all the airway and oxygen supplies that you would need for any kind of operation here in our office. So we make sure that your blood pressure is good, your heart rate is good, your oxygenation is good. All the safety devices and monitors you would find in a hospital setting we have here in Dr. Chong's office. So the first part of being put to sleep is safety. That, again, is our highest priority.

Anesthesia 101: Everything to Expect Before Surgery

Your first time "going under" can definitely be nerve-racking. Dr. Steve Yun, anesthesiologist for Dr. Lavinia Chong, provides an understanding of everything you can expect before surgery.