At Dr. Krakora’s office, we use IV sedation for wisdom tooth surgeries, simple dental extractions, and some implant surgeries and biopsies. Most of our patients call it “going to sleep,” but that’s not quite right. IV sedation is deeper than both nitrous gas sedation, which is inhaled, and oral sedation, which is swallowed in the form of a pill, but it does not put you fully to sleep in the way that general anesthesia does.
What is the difference between a surgery with IV sedation and a more major surgery in a hospital setting?
When general anesthesia is administered in the hospital, the patient is completely unconscious. A machine is used to keep the patient breathing and a urinary catheter is placed to control the patient’s bladder. Yet when we use IV sedation in our office—also called conscious sedation—you won’t need any help breathing or holding your bladder. Though the term conscious sedation implies that the patient is still somewhat aware of their procedure, the reality is that our sedation medications cause the patient to be amnestic, or to not remember their surgery. The conscious sedation we do in our office allows the patient to follow simple commands such as “open your mouth” or “take a deep breath.” It’s just as if someone asked you to roll over in the middle of the night. You would listen and roll over, but you probably wouldn’t remember it in the morning. We use conscious sedation because it is the most comfortable sedation option for our patients.
So what can our patients expect to experience after IV sedation?
Drowsiness is the most common side effect. It’s also the most obvious, since the purpose of anesthesia is to relax the body. It sometimes takes 24-48 hours for the medications to fully exit your system, so we strongly recommended that you get plenty of rest after a sedation surgery. This will ensure the quickest recovery possible.
2. Dry Mouth
Oral surgery causes dry mouth for three reasons. First, your mouth is open for the majority of your surgery, which allows air to evaporate saliva, and the suction we use during surgery further accelerates the drying process. Second, we pack dry gauze area the surgical sites after surgery, which continues to absorb any saliva in the mouth and leaves it feeling more dry than usual. Third, dry mouth is a very common side effect of our sedation medications (as well as a vast number of other prescription medications that you may see commercials for on television).
3. Nausea or Vomiting
Because of the way IV sedation medications affect the brain and gastrointestinal systems, you may experience some nausea or vomiting. Some people face a higher risk for these side effects, particularly people with a strong history of motion sickness, females, younger patients, and those who have family histories of nausea and vomiting upon waking from surgery. Sometimes the gauze placed over your extraction sites can stimulate the gag reflex too, which can cause dry heaving or the feeling of choking, though this is less common and usually lasts only a short time.
As the sedation medications wear off, it is common for the patient’s eyes to tear up or for the person to cry. Adolescent females are at the highest risk of tearing up after surgery. The patient’s family or friend should know that this is not due to pain; our patient wake up with numbness in the surgical areas.
Post-surgery headaches occur for a combination of reasons. Most often, it is a side effect of the sedation medications exiting the patient’s system. Headaches are also caused by dehydration or low blood sugar, since patients cannot have anything to eat or drink after midnight the night prior to surgery.
Most of our patients experience memory loss after IV sedation. In fact, that’s the reason for having sedation in the first place! A patient might realize the day following surgery that they have no recollection of waking up after their surgery or leaving the office. This can mean partial or full memory loss for several hours following anesthesia.
We understand that the prospect of surgery with conscious sedation might be unnerving for you, especially if you’ve never had surgery before. Anesthesia comes with some small risks and a lot of unknown variables. This, combined with the prospect of a potentially painful procedure, is definitely scary to a lot of patients. Fortunately, conscious sedation is a safe technique. Dr. Krakora is certified in anesthesia and has been performing safe IV sedation on patients in his office for over ten years. We’ll give you nasal oxygen to make sure there are no complications with your breathing, and we’ll connect you to several monitoring modalities to ensure the safest possible experience. When necessary, we communicate with your other medical doctors to determine if any extra precautions need to be taken.
Make sure you ask us any questions you have about conscious sedation! We want you to feel completely comfortable. Knowing what to expect is the best way to alleviate your stress about your upcoming surgery.
Featured Image Source