What is anaesthesia, and is it dangerous?

When having cosmetic surgery, anaesthesia will often be necessary. Whether or not anaesthesia is needed, and whether it is general or local anaesthesia depends on the individual treatment and the extent. You can find more information about anaesthesia for individual treatments in the treatment information here on Mylooks. Below is a specification of, what is meant by general and local anaesthesia, as well as the associated risks.


At the clinics and hospitals, the expression "anaesthesia" is commonly used when referring to sedative drugs. The term for it used to be narcosis, but these days, anaesthetic is a more precise term, as it also includes pain-relieving.

Anaesthesia doesn't only serve to relieve pain and render you immobile. It also helps control the natural bodily reactions to pain and trauma. Even though scientists today aren't 100 % sure of how anaesthesia works, we know that it does work, and that it is very effective!

Anaesthesia does the 5 following things:

  1. Relieves pain.
  2. Makes you loose memory.
  3. Makes you unconscious.
  4. Renders you immobile.
  5. Keeps heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure at a steady level, and stops tear production

Before the surgery

Prior to the surgery, the surgeon will speak with you about the form of anaesthesia that will be used. He or she will also ask about your health, possible allergies, the condition of your teeth, medicine consumption, and perhaps also alcohol or smoking habits. All these factors are important when choosing the form of anaesthesia for the surgery. If you've been under anaesthesia before it's important that you let the doctor know of any experienced side effects. Finally, the doctor will decide on which form of anaesthetic that's best suited for you.

Local anaesthesia

There are several ways to administer local anaesthesia. The anaesthetic can be injected into the back, where it will block the nerves, and sedate the part of the body that is to be operated on. Among other, this method is used for some liposuction treatments.

A different way is to use local anaesthesia on a small area. If an anaesthetic is injected locally in the treated area, you will be awake during the whole procedure, but you won't feel any pain. You will still, however, be able to feel touch and pressure in the area. In addition to this form of local anaesthesia, it is possible to be given a soothing/sedative drug, so you can lie relaxed and doze off during the procedure.

General anaesthesia

General anaesthesia, also referred to as full general anaesthesia or full narcosis, means, that you'll sleep through the entire surgery, without feeling any pain. The anaesthesia will be administered as a gas for inhaling, or in a liquid form, through a catheter.

In combination with the anaesthics there are certain rules you must follow. Consumption of food and drinks is not allowed prior to anaesthesia. It is important that you have an empty stomach so the risk of vomiting during the procedure is minimised. This could result in the contents of the stomach running back into the gullet and down into the lungs. The doctor will specify the amount of hours you should fast prior to surgery.

Complications and side effects

Even though many patients feel somewhat uneasy at the thought of going into anaesthesia, it is often a neccesary part of a surgical procedure. Each year tens of thousands of Brits go through anaesthesia safely. If you're contemplating surgery that requires anaesthesia you should therefore try to learn more about it rather than fearing it.

Modern anaesthesia is very safe, and the complications are very rare. According to an American study, it is now 50 times safer to be put under anaestesia today, than it was only 20 years ago. Despite this, you should be aware that mistakes can occur, and however small they are, there are risks of complications. Very serious complications are extremely rare, though.

During the entire procedure, the clinic staff will monitor your pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and breathing, and they will make sure that you'll sleep deeply and securely through the whole procedure. Most patients recover quite quickly from the anaesthesia and are soon back to normal. Some will experience side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, soreness of the throat, headache, nausea, or vomiting. Most side effects can be treated with medicine, if necessary.

Further complications may occur, depending on the health of the patient, the type of surgery performed, and the choice of anaesthetic. If your case involves special risk factors, these will be discussed prior to the surgery.