Anesthesia & Plastic Surgery
What you need to know about anesthesia.
Who administers the anesthetic?
First and foremost, you may have never asked yourself who will be putting you to sleep? It’s important to know who your anesthesia provider is. Not all anesthesia providers are created equal! Dr. Blanka Orloff is the Board Certified Anesthesiologist for ALL procedures that are performed by Dr. George Orloff. Her vast knowledge and know how in the field of anesthesiology earned her a residency at the University of California, San Francisco, the nation’s #1 ranked anesthesiology training program and is an esteemed member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. She is well known and respected in her field.
Not all anesthesiologists are created equal!
Not all plastic surgeons utilize board certified anesthesiologists. Some work with non-certified anesthesiologists or nurse anesthetists. There is a marked difference between the two. Anesthesiologists are fully licensed doctors who have chosen to specialize in the area of anesthesiology. They must first obtain a bachelor’s degree after four years of pre-medical studies then complete four years of medical school resulting in an M.D. or D.O. degree followed by a four-year anesthesiology residency program-for a total of twelve years.
Board certification is obtained when an anesthesiologist meets the American Board of Anesthesiology requirements and passes both written and oral examinations. Board certification is not a guarantee but is an indicator of competency and depth of knowledge. Anesthesiologists are doctors first, and then become specialists in anesthesiology.
By contrast, licensed nurse anesthetists obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing and then complete a two to three year nurse-anesthesia training program. One-year experience as an acute care nurse is mandatory.
TYPES OF ANESTHESIA
There are 4 Kinds of anesthesia utilized during plastic surgery procedures:
Local anesthesia is used to prevent pain in a smaller, specific area. Examples of this are when a doctor injects an area to numb it before stitching a wound or when a dentist numbs you for a filling. During a straight local anesthetic the patient is awake.
Intravenous sedation is when potent medications are given through an IV to help prevent pain and anxiety associated with medical and surgical procedures. Frequently, sedation is used in conjunction with a local anesthetic to provide the most comfort. With sedation, patients are usually very groggy and may briefly drift off to sleep. This is what people commonly call “twilight”.
Regional anesthesia is when an anesthetic is injected around larger nerves to anesthetize/numb a larger area or region for surgery. A common example of this is when an anesthesiologist performs a spinal anesthetic or epidural for a C-section by injecting anesthesia near the spinal nerves which essentially anesthetizes the lower half of your body.
General anesthesia is when the patient goes completely to sleep for surgery. The patient is given medications, which cause loss of consciousness, and prevents pain. The medications are given intravenously or in combination with inhaled anesthesia gases. In plastic surgery this is the most common anesthetic you will likely encounter.
The type of anesthesia that you will need depends in large part on the kind of surgery you are having. With certain surgical procedures, general anesthesia may be the only way for the patient to be completely pain free during the procedure.
Questions to ask the anesthesiologist
It’s important to ask your anesthesiologist whether you are having general vs. sedation. I frequently get told distressing stories by patients who said they “woke up” in the middle of a procedure and were scared this would happen again.
One explanation for this might be that the anesthesiologist did not communicate clearly to the patient that he never intended on putting them completely to sleep with a general anesthetic. His plan might have been sedation alone. In this case the patient coming in and out of consciousness could be expected. An example of where this might be the case is breast biopsies.
Possible side effects of anesthesia
Every patient is different when it comes to experiencing any possible side effects from anesthesia. When the procedure has concluded, the patient will be woken up. Some patients may experience one or several symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, slightly disoriented, foggy, or muscle soreness. Most symptoms pass quickly and the patient will not be released to go home until it has been deemed safe to do so. Patients, will only be discharged to a friend or family member who must drive them home. Any lingering symptoms typically clear up within 24 hours. Dr. Orloff and staff will ensure that each patient has a detailed recovery plan to help expedite the healing process.