I'm having a long surgery. Questions about anesthesia.

I’m having a complex breast reconstruction surgery Wednesday that’s slated to take 3-1/2 hours. I will, of course, be under general anesthesia. I admit I’m apprehensive. I’ve never been under for anywhere near that long. It’s still same-day surgery because insurance won’t cover a hospital stay.

Generally speaking, is there any correlation between the length of time spent under general anesthesia and the time in the recovery room? Is at-home recovery from the anesthesia, itself, any longer for longer surgeries? Science, personal experiences, I’ll gratefully take what you’ve got.

And will I get all the ice cream I want afterward? :slight_smile:

Firstly good luck with your surgery and recovery. I have only had hernia surgery 15 years ago so take it for what it is worth.
i also was put under and it was outpatient surgery.
When you say I have never been under for that long - does this mean you have had experience with anesthesia?
For me the experience in the recovery room was similar to that of a drunk person who stayed on the couch instead of driving home. The second you are awake (they will of course have your vitals the whole time) they will be looking for you to leave. Once they are assured that you are “safe” to go - and the insurance will not pay another minute - they should release you.
My personal experience - again nothing like what you are having - was post surgery I was totally out of it. I felt like I had not slept in weeks I was so tired. I never used the pain medication script and I am pretty sure I ate nothing for more than 2 days I was so out of it.
Judging from that I would just prepare to have someone watch over you and have whatever area you will be spending recovery be as clutter free and accessible for those that help you as possible.
Good luck and I hope all goes well.

Be aware that anesthesia often causes blackout periods (especially among people getting it for the first time). You may find that you won’t remember any events that occurred for hours before or after the operation.

They’ll probably want to know that you can pee and fart before you get sent home (for real)–to be sure there are no problems with excretion. Be glad you’re getting sent home, hospitals are not great place to spend time. I threatened to pull my own line out when it got late in the day and I hadn’t been discharged yet; suddenly the doctor was available to sign off.

The blackout thing is real. One of my closest friends came to visit a couple days later and I have no memory of her visit.

Good luck! 3.5 hours isn’t terribly long, so I’d expect a reasonably quick recovery, though you may be groggy, nauseated, or out of it.

I had an operation once. And a few days later I complained about how the doctor still hadn’t send me the results that were supposed to have come from the operation.

My family members looked at me in confusion. The doctor had apparently given me the results on the day of the operation. I was apparently fully lucid and discussed the results with the doctor. So everyone assumed I was aware of the results. But I had completely blanked out the conversation and didn’t even remember it had occurred.

It’s fairly common when you first wake up after surgery for a nurse or aide to ask if you know where you are. This happened to me the first time I had surgery, but no one had told me about the recovery room, and I was very upset at not knowing the answer to the question (okay, a little OCD).

Years later, a friend was having first-time surgery, and I clued her in about the tricky question. She later told me that she had indeed been asked the question, and when she replied, “I’m in the recovery room,” the nurse responded, “If you’re so smart, what’s you room number?”

I suspect that the correct answer may simply be, “I’m in the hospital”.

A co-worker’s father had a lengthy heart surgery, and in the recovery room, with family present, the doctor asked if there was anything the patient wanted. He replied, “A blowjob.”

I’m glad that didn’t happen with me…

I’ve had surgeries in recent years (ah, the bonuses of getting older.) I had my tonsils out when I was about seven, then nothing until my lumpectomy about ten years ago. I vomited after, so now I know to tell the anesthesiologist to give me something to quiet my tummy.

You go under FAST. Like, one second you’re getting settled on the operating table, the next the nurse is telling you to wake up. Expect to spend an hour or so in recovery, while they make sure you’re waking up okay and there are no issues. They’re not going to send you home until they make sure you’re okay. You’ll be drowsy, so just doze there until they wheel you out to the car.

I’m sure this is obvious but be sure you have someone to drive you home and stay with you till you’re fully recovered.

I have a memory blackout from before and after the surgeries I had last year, but what you’re having done isn’t comparable to my disaster.

I’ve had three surgeries under GA and went home the same day for two of them. I’ve also had two colonoscopies, rhinoplasty, and a D&C, all of which were done under lighter anesthesia, and I can’t tell the difference between the GA and the lighter stuff. In my experience, regardless of how heavily they are sedating you, you go out really fast, are prone to memory blackouts in the hours after you wake up, and are pretty functional right away, just very tired.

I wouldn’t recommend driving (in fact I suspect you won’t be released unless the hospital/clinic verifies that you have someone to get you home), but I have walked home or taken public transit by myself shortly after surgery.

The medicines/procedures used have definitely improved over the years, so if you are relying on old stories, you probably shouldn’t assume you are subject to a similar experience. It used to be that people were subject to a noticeable period of incoherence/confusion upon waking; my doctor friend told me that she had heard some pretty amazing comments from patients who were still woozy and didn’t know what they were saying. But for my most recent procedures, the doctors told me that the latest anesthetic is pretty good, and you snap back to full consciousness pretty quickly, so no worries over making an ass of yourself while in a half-drugged condition.

When I was in college and we had a lecture about the stages and planes of anesthesia, the elderly professor said, “You would not believe the words some of these proper little old ladies will say!”

I had two general anesthesias last year, also for breast surgery (early stage cancer in my case), and didn’t have any nausea or lasting grogginess either time. The second time, I had a harder time recovering from the anesthesia than I did from the surgery itself, which surprised me a little but I do know that general anesthesia could best be described as carefully controlled death. :eek:

When I woke up from the first surgery, the PACU nurse asked me how I was feeling. I pointed in the general direction of a man who was vomiting very loudly, and said, “Better than him, that’s for sure.”

You do go out fast. Like a light switch, just as ivylass says.

Any doctors around will know better than me, but I think it’s now kind of standard to administer IV anti-nausea medication in advance, because it’s pretty safe and better to head off any unpleasant side effects before rather than wait for them to manifest.

Apparently I offered to sign my own discharge papers when my doc wasn’t immediately available.

I’ve had two procedures under general anesthesia this year. One was only about 20 minutes, and the other was just over an hour. In both cases, as others have described, I went out quickly.

After the 20-minute procedure, I was a bit groggy afterward. Took me a little bit to get coordinated enough to walk out. After the surgery that lasted an hour, I came to and felt fully coherent right away. Of course, I also came to in a significant amount of pain (and was told by the nurse that I’d started writhing before I was really awake), so that may have been a significant factor. At any rate, I didn’t have any nausea or blackouts or any other ill effects that I’m aware of from either procedure.

I hope your procedure is completely successful and uneventful!

Note that the loopiness is stronger and lasts longer the older you are. For the quite elderly it’s enough of a concern that sometimes surgery isn’t performed since they might end up with very serious mental issues which ruin the rest of their lives.

Set up a system with sticky notes and an informed caregiver to make sure you are reminded of what is going on, not to argue about what you think happened, etc.

Generally speaking, longer operative time and administration of anesthesia will lead to a somewhat longer period of feeling groggy as you wake up in the recovery room, as well as after you are discharged.

Another factor is how much opioid pain medication you will require during and after a surgery like that. You might want to ask your anesthesiologist if they use any regional anesthetic techniques that can reduce the need for pain medications while keeping you more comfortable.

And I’d recommend holding off on the ice cream until you’re sure you can handle it. :slight_smile: Best wishes for a quick recovery!

We do routinely use prophylactic anti-nausea medication with nearly every general anesthetic. However, it’s always good to know if patients have had problems with post operative nausea and vomiting in the past, in which case we may use several different anti-nausea medications and/or try to avoid or minimize certain anesthetic drugs as much as possible.

I have woken up fine, I have woken up crying, and I have woken up trying to punch someone. It’s a little disorienting when you wake up because it wasn’t a true sleep. No dreams, just limbo, then you’re up again and stuff’s been done to you.

It always amazes me how fast it works. Even Ivylad, who is on some heavy duty pain meds and sometimes doesn’t sleep for a couple of days, was surprised at how fast he went under for his colonoscopy. One second he’s telling the doc he doesn’t think the anesthesia is working, the next he’s in the recovery room trying to fart for the nurse.

Every time I’ve had surgery, the anesthesiologist has come by ahead of time to introduce him/herself and answer any questions. Sometimes they’ve shown up several hours before surgery, and sometimes it’s been at the last minute (but before I was sedated). I’m not sure why this is done – or if it’s universal – but it always makes me feel better that this person knows me as a human being.

I think they do it to familiarize themselves with you as the patient and make sure of any issues you may have going under (nausea, that sort of thing.)