What to expect

Before your anaesthetic

Your anaesthetist will meet with you before your operation, to discuss risks, and to perform an assessment. Depending on the type of operation, hospital or facility, this may not occur until immediately beforehand. There are some things you can do which will make your anaesthetic safer:

  • Increase your fitness - even a daily walk can improve the function of your heart and lungs
  • Stop smoking - ideally, stop six weeks before surgery
  • Drink less alcohol - do not drink any alcohol 24 hours before surgery
  • Bring all your prescribed medication - If you are taking aspirin, consult your surgeon or anaesthetist about whether you should stop taking it two weeks prior to surgery
  • Stop taking herbal products at least two to three weeks prior to surgery
  • Stop taking recreational drugs before surgery as these may interact with the anaesthetic. If you have a drug addiction please tell your surgeon or anaesthetist
You must tell the anaesthetist of any:
  • health problems or recent illnesses
  • previous operations
  • abnormal reactions to any drugs
  • any allergies
  • any history of asthma, bronchitis, heart problems or any other medical conditions
  • any medications; herbal remedies; recreational drugs, cigarette or alcohol use
  • any loose or broken teeth, dentures, caps or plates.
The anaesthetist wants to have all the information about your present health condition so that the most suitable anaesthetic can be planned. Please answer all questions honestly to help minimise risk to you.
On the day of surgery
Do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or lollies from midnight before your procedure unless instructed otherwise. Not even water. Food or fluid in the stomach may be vomited and enter your lungs while you are unconscious. If you don’t follow this rule of fasting, the operation may be postponed in the interests of your safety.
Recovery from surgery
Your anaesthetist will arrange pain relief, medication for nausea and vomiting and fluids by drip if required. Once awake, you will feel drowsy. You will be in the recovery area where a nurse will be looking after you. You may have a sore throat, feel sick, have some pain or a headache. Tell the nurse because these can be managed by giving you medication to feel more comfortable. You will also be given oxygen to breathe, encouraged to take deep breaths and to cough. Only when you’re fully awake and comfortable will you be transferred either back to your room, ward or to a waiting area before returning home.
Things to avoid after anaesthesia

A general anesthetic will affect your judgement for about 24 hours. During this time you should be accompanied and must not:

  • drive any type of vehicle
  • operate machinery including cooking implements
  • make important decisions or sign a legal document
  • drink alcohol, take recreational drugs or smoke.