General anesthesia is a treatment with certain medicines that puts you into a deep sleep so you do not feel pain during surgery. When you receive these medicines, you will not be aware of what is happening around you. General anesthesia is commonly produced by a combination of intravenous drugs and inhaled anesthetics. The “sleep” you experience under general anesthesia is different from regular sleep. The anesthetized brain doesn’t respond to pain signals or surgical stimulation. General anesthesia typically involves the placement of a breathing tube or breathing device to assist the patient with breathing during the procedure, and in order to ensure that adequate oxygen levels can be maintained throughout the procedure. General anesthesia can cause nausea and vomiting in at risk patients. If you are identified as an at risk patient, you will likely receive a combination of medications that can help in preventing nausea and vomiting in the post-operative period. General anesthesia is typically performed for longer procedures, procedures that may involve significant blood loss, and for procedures that may limit the patients’ ability to breathe properly.
Most healthy people don’t have any problems with general anesthesia. Although many people may have mild, temporary symptoms, general anesthesia itself is exceptionally safe, even for the sickest patients. The risk of long-term complications, much less death, is very small. In general, the risk of complications is more closely related to the type of procedure you’re undergoing, and your general physical health, than to the anesthesia itself.