Almost all medical procedures involve some form of anesthesia which works and impacts risk differently
Whether it’s wisdom tooth removal, a diagnostic colonoscopy or a coronary bypass surgery - they all involve some sort of anesthesia.

Since we cover elective surgeries, we’ve made it a point to know as much about anesthesia as we can so you have the resources you need to have more confidence about your procedure or ask your healthcare providers any questions you might have.

The Basics

Anesthesia is treatment to not feel pain during medical surgeries that works by blocking sensory signals to the brain

An anesthesiologist is a doctor that evaluates, monitors & delivers anesthesia

An analgesic is pain medication, usually used in postoperative pain management

Who’s at higher risk of adverse reactions?

  • Older individuals
  • Smokers
  • Those with any of the following disorders:
  • Insulin / Weight
  • Heart / Brain
  • Kidney / Lung

Complications & Side Effects

  • Common: Body pain, nausea, chills, itching, sore throat, trouble urinating
  • Rare: Nerve damage, malignant hyperthermia, collapsed lung, anesthetic awareness, hives, trouble swallowing / breathing, paralysis, slurred speech

Before & After Anesthesia

  • Before: Expect to make some changes around smoking, blood pressure medication, ingesting food / drink / supplements leading up to your procedure as per your doctor’s orders
  • After: Have someone drive you home from the medical facility, follow your recommended rest / pain management regimen and do not drive, operate equipment, consume alcohol or make any important decisions for a day or two while the anesthesia leaves your system
There’s 4 main types of anesthesia, in increasing strength - local, sedation, regional & general. We’ve compared them below so you can better understand how they work, what to expect, and what you need to consider about risks or recovery


  • What is it? Numbing parts of the body for quick procedures
  • Will I be awake? Yes
  • How is it administered? Numbing cream, spray, needle
  • Commonly used in? Stitches, cavities, biopsies
  • Side effects / risks? Soreness at injection site, allergic reactions


  • What is it? Relaxing the muscles and inducing drowsiness
  • Will I be awake? Depends on type of sedation; mild - alert, moderate - drowsy, deep - asleep
  • How is it administered? Intravenous
  • Commonly used in? Wisdom teeth removal, laser eye surgery, endoscopy
  • Side effects / risks? Nausea, headaches, drowsiness


  • What is it? Numbing large areas of the body - causing partial paralysis
  • Will I be awake? Yes
  • How is it administered? Catheter or needle for a spinal block, epidural or peripheral nerve block
  • Commonly used in?  C-section, hand surgery, knee surgery
  • Side effects / risks? Nausea, headache, low blood pressure, itching, bleeding, infection, seizure, trouble urinating, nerve damage


  • What is it? Being unconscious & having slowed down body function
  • Will I be awake? No - an anesthesiologist monitors your heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels & other vitals
  • How is it administered? Breathing tube / mask, intravenous
  • Commonly used in?  Major / invasive procedures of the head, chest or abdomen
  • Side effects / risks? Slowed reflexes, impaired judgment, drowsiness, sore throat, nausea, chills, confusion