Types of Anesthesia:  Understanding Going Under

Types of Anesthesia: Understanding Going Under

Local, regional, general—oh my! If you’ve ever undergone surgery or if you have an upcoming procedure on the books, you’re probably aware there are a few different types of anesthesia. But what, exactly, is the difference between each and what are they used for? Today, we’re breaking down all you need to know about the different types of anesthesia and how your surgeon may use them.

1. Local Anesthesia

  • Blocks pain in a specific part of your body without rendering you unconscious
  • This type of anesthesia is used when your surgeon can perform your operation quickly, without the need for all of the muscles in your body to be relaxed
  • Used for minor, localized procedures, like:
    • Getting stitches
    • Having a mole removed
    • Having something biopsied
    • Dental surgery

2. Regional Anesthesia

  • Numbs a larger part of the body without rendering you unconscious
  • Includes spinal anesthesia, epidural anesthesia, and nerve blocks
  • May be used on its own—in which case you’ll be awake for surgery
  • May be used in combination with a sedative or general anesthesia—which would sedate you or put you out entirely for the operation
  • This type of anesthesia is used for procedures like:
    • Childbirth (numbing below the waist with an epidural)
    • Orthopedic surgeries (used on a single extremity)
    • Gastrointestinal procedures

3. General Anesthesia

  • The most common of all types of anesthesia
  • Causes you to lose consciousness during your operation
  • Administered through an IV or via a breathing mask
  • Your brain doesn’t respond to reflexes or pain signals when you’re under general anesthesia
  • This type of anesthesia is used for major operations, including:
    • Open heart surgery
    • Knee replacements
    • Back surgery
    • Plastic surgery
    • Brain surgery

Want even more insightful surgery information? Browse the rest of our blog for empowering pre-op tips, helpful nutrition advice, and more!