Why are there so many people in the operating theatre?

Lots of things have to work properly during operation. That’s why different people are needed who are good at different things. Someone has to operate, someone has to assist the person operating, and someone is needed to help out with all the equipment. Other people make sure you’re okay under the anaesthetic and there are no problems throughout the entire operation. Everybody’s there just to help you!

Can I have somebody I know with me when I’m being operated on?

No. The person with you will have to wait outside as soon as you’ve fallen asleep. They’ll often go and have a coffee or a snack so that they’re ready to look after you after your operation. They’ll be back by your side when you wake up after your operation.

What happens when I am given anaesthesia?

There’s an area in your brain that determines how alert you are. The drug used when you’re put under general anaesthetic affects this area. This drug is so strong that the brain doesn’t notice what’s happening to you – it doesn’t even notice that the surgeon is operating. Being under general anaesthetic is completely different to just sleeping in the usual way. When you sleep, your brain switches off certain parts of itself so that you can rest. If you’re under a general anaesthetic, your brain has nothing to choose from – it has to switch to standby.

How do I fall asleep?

When you’re being put under general anaesthetic, you can either breathe in anaesthetic gas or be administered an anaesthetic through the plastic tube in your blood vessel. This gas might smell a bit chemically, like petrol or nail polish. The anaesthetist will decide which method works best for you. You’ll go to sleep really quickly no matter which method is used. Once you’re asleep, you’ll carry on sleeping because fluid and different drugs will be given to you the whole time until the operation is over.

Will I definitely go to sleep and stay asleep?

Yes – you’ll definitely, definitely go to sleep regardless of whether you’re given gas or drugs through the tube. These drugs travel in your blood to the brain, and when your brain says goodnight you’ll be out like a light. An anaesthetist or nurse anaesthetist will monitor you constantly to make sure you’re sleeping deeply enough. They’ll keep an eye on your blood pressure and respiration and lots of other things to make sure you’re okay. Your doses of pain relief and anaesthetic may be adjusted during the operation to give you the perfect sleep.

How long will I be out for?

You’ll sleep well right until your operation is over. It’s difficult to say how long you’ll be out for, because it varies from person to person. People often feel quite tired after their operations, so continuing to sleep can feel quite nice while all the anaesthetic leaves your body. The best thing is to sleep and rest for as long as you feel tired and your body needs it.

Is it certain I will not wake up during my operation?

Absolutely certain, yes. You really don’t need to worry about waking up during your operation. You’ll be given anaesthetic the whole time, right until your operation is over. An anaesthetist or nurse anaesthetist will check that you’re sleeping really well by measuring lots of different things, like how your heart is beating and how you’re breathing.

Will I definitely wake up after my operation?

Yes, you’ll wake up after your operation. Some people wake up quickly, some sleep for a little longer. It’s difficult to say how long you’ll be out for, because it varies from person to person. You won’t be given any more anaesthetic when your operation is over, and you’ll wake up when the anaesthetic has left your body. It’s absolutely normal to be tired and feel a bit woozy. So you can have a nap for a while if you like!

Will my operation hurt?

No, you’ll be sleeping soundly and you won’t feel a thing while you’re being operated on. When your brain is asleep, it doesn’t feel pain like it does when you’re awake. You’ll also be given different drugs during your operation to help eliminate any pain. And of course, you’ll also receive pain relief after your operation for as long as you need it.

Could I pee or poo myself when I’m under the general anaesthetic?

It’s certainly possible that you might need to pee or poo when you’re under the anaesthetic, but it’s very rare. One of the reasons for this is that you don’t eat or drink as much as usual when you’re about to have a general anaesthetic. But if you do have an accident, there’s absolutely no problem. The staff are used to dealing with that kind of thing.

Can I be put under a general anaesthetic even though I’m on my period?

Yes, that’s not a problem. If your period is so heavy that you have to take drugs because you bleed so heavily, you should talk to your anaesthetist about this beforehand. If you’re on a certain type of Pill, you can often postpone your period so that you don’t have to have it at the same time as your operation. That said, you need to take a break from some Pills when you need an operation. Check with your doctor. If you have an operation while you’re on your period, you mustn’t wear a tampon. You mustn’t leave your tampon in for too long, and there’s more of a risk of you forgetting it when you’ve just undergone operation. Moreover, the staff can change a sanitary towel for you if necessary.

What if I talk a load of rubbish during my operation?

You won’t. You’ll be out like a light during your operation! Some people may mumble a few words just as they’re going under or coming out of the anaesthetic. But they don’t usually make long speeches!

Is there any risk of me getting a stiffy during my operation?

Yes, it’s possible, but it’s really not something you need to worry about. All this does is show that your body is working exactly as it should. There’s nothing you can do to prevent it – if it happens, it happens. The staff in the operating theatre have seen it all before – and no doubt they’ll see it again. But that said, they might not even notice what’s going on under the covers!

Will I remember my operation?

You won’t remember a thing from the operation itself. But having said that, you might remember what happened directly before you went to sleep or after you woke up.