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Most surgical procedures use general anaesthesia so that during an operation your reflexes do not work, you have no muscle tone, cannot feel a thing and are unaware of your surroundings. General anaesthetics are administered by an anaesthetist. Before the operation you will be asked about medication you are taking as some drugs can affect the surgical procedure. If you are on medication check with your GP that you can take it immediately before and after surgery. You age, weight and general fitness can also determine the type of anaesthetic you are given.

A premedication is given between one and two hours before the operation to make you feel drowsy and relaxed. This is generally in the form of an injection but in children may be given orally.

An anaesthetic, usually thiopentone, is given by injection at the beginning of surgery. Then a hollow tube is put into a vein in the patient's arm and left during the operation so other drugs can be given quickly and efficiently. During surgery, the supply of anaesthetic to the body is maintained with a mixture of gases which are inhaled through a mask. In addition to the aneasthetic itself, analgesics are used to prevent the patient feeling pain, and muscle relaxants may also be given.

The anesthetic wears off on its own and how long it takes to do so depends on the type and amount used. Drugs are given to inactivate the muscle relaxant and start normal breathing. If the pain after surgery is severe, the patient may be given opioid analgesics but these have negative side effects so painkillers such as ibuprofen are preferred if the pain is not so severe.