If you’re preparing for spine surgery, there’s a good chance you’re looking for details on what you can expect after it’s finished. You probably have questions like, “How long does it take for anesthesia to wear off?” and “What side effects will I experience after I wake up?” Here’s everything you need to know about the general anesthesia you’ll receive during spine surgery.
How Long Does It Take for Anesthesia to Wear off After Surgery?
There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to this question—anesthesia impacts each person differently. Several factors can determine how your body will respond to general anesthesia, such as:
- Your medical history and overall health
- Current medications you’re taking
- Previous experience with anesthesia
- Lifestyle factors, such as alcohol and tobacco use
Different medications can be used for anesthesia, and your anesthesiologist can determine the best ones for you. This will help keep you safe during your spine surgery and minimize side effects once you’re in recovery.
What Are the Side Effects of Anesthesia Following Spine Surgery?
It is completely normal to be concerned about the side effects of anesthesia. General anesthesia impacts the entire body and can cause you to experience any of the following side effects after spine surgery.
- Nausea: When you first come out of anesthesia, you may feel sick to your stomach. This is normally very short-lived, but sometimes nausea and/or vomiting can last for a few days following surgery. Anti-nausea medications may be offered if you experience this side effect.
- Grogginess: After your spine surgery is finished, you may feel a bit out of it or not fully awake while the anesthesia wears off. Most people describe this period as a “brain fog” because it causes grogginess and confusion.
- Dry mouth: Certain anesthesia medications used during spine surgery can cause you to have a dry mouth. Hydrating after you wake up will help relieve any dry mouth that you experience.
- Sore throat: If a breathing tube is used during your spine surgery, you may wake up with a minor sore throat. Taking pain medications will help manage any discomfort associated with a sore throat.
- Dizziness: It’s possible that you’ll feel slightly light-headed when you first wake up and change positions following spine surgery. Our team monitors each patient closely following surgery to protect them from falls.
- Body chills: Because your body temperature can decrease during spine surgery, you may have chills after you awaken. Our surgical staff can provide extra blankets to help keep you comfortable if this occurs.
- Itching: Narcotics are often used during surgery and can temporarily cause a general itching sensation throughout your body.
- Muscle aches: It is possible for the muscle relaxants used during your procedure to make your muscles feel sore after you wake up from surgery.
- Trouble urinating: Some medications used during general anesthesia can impact the nerves and muscles that help you urinate.
Minimizing the Side Effects of Anesthesia After Surgery
Although the effects of general anesthesia are temporary, it is completely reasonable to have concerns about your recovery from spine surgery. At DISC Sports & Spine Center, we’ve developed a unique, personalized process to help prevent and ease the side effects of general anesthesia after spine surgery.
By using a combination of anesthesia drugs, we can prevent nausea and help initiate a faster recovery. And because most minimally invasive spine procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, your loved ones will be by your side and ready to take you home within a couple of hours—so you can have a safe, comfortable recovery and get back to doing what you love.
ARTICLE CATEGORIES: Anesthesia
About the author
Joseph Barrows, MD A board certified anesthesiologist with extensive training, Dr. Joseph J. Barrows serves as Medical Director of DISC Surgery Center at Newport Beach. In this role, he brings a commitment to top-level care, taking a personalized and highly detailed approach that ensures his patients’ safety and comfort before, during and after surgery. Dr. Barrows is particularly adept at eliminating post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV), which afflicts as many as 30% of patients undergoing anesthesia. Combining his specialized training with thorough questioning and a focus on the nuances surrounding each unique case, he is able to personalize treatment plans, thereby preventing PONV in more than 95% of DISC’s patients. Read more articles by Joseph Barrows, MD.