These medicines give you the loss of feeling or sensation during surgery. You may be asleep or awake, depending on the type of anesthesia you receive. You will receive your anesthesia from an anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist.

Your doctor will talk with you about which type of anesthesia is right for you. The one you receive will depend on your surgery, your medical and surgical history, and your physical health.

Types of anesthesia

There are five types of anesthesia:

  • general: You are asleep during surgery and have no sensation of pain. This is used for a wide variety of surgeries.
  • regional: This involves a loss of sensation to a specific region of your body. For a Cesarean birth, for instance, you will be numb from the waist down and unable to move your legs. You will be awake but comfortable during surgery. You will gradually regain normal movement and feeling after delivery or surgery. You may also receive sedation with this type of anesthesia.
  • local: This involves the loss of sensation in a limited area of your body (such as finger surgery). You will be awake but comfortable during surgery.
  • monitored anesthesia care (known as MAC): You will be sleepy and relaxed during your surgery. You may receive a sedative through an intravenous (IV) line before and during surgery.
  • bier block (IV block): You will have temporary numbness and pain relief. The anesthesiologist injects a type of local anesthesia, using a special tourniquet to direct it into one area of your body. This is usually used for hand and forearm surgery.

The amount of time it takes for the anesthesia to wear off differs for each person. You will recover from the anesthesia in a special area where nurses will monitor your recovery after surgery.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Surgery: What You Need to Know, surg-ah-21686; What You Should Know About Anesthesia, surg-ah-11761
First Published: 01/15/2011
Last Reviewed: 11/25/2019