Complications and risks

A number of more serious complications are associated with general anaesthetics. Theseare rare, occurring in less than 1 in every 10,000 cases.

Possible serious complications and risksinclude:

  • a serious allergic reaction to the anaesthetic ( anaphylaxis )
  • an inherited reaction to the anaesthetic that causes breathing difficulties
  • waking up during your operation but this is rare, and the amount of anaesthetic given will be continuously monitored to help ensurethis doesn't happen
  • death this is very rare, occurring in 1 in every 100,000 to 1 in every 200,000 cases

Serious problems are more likely to occur if you're having major or emergency surgery, you have any other illnesses, you smoke, or you're overweight.

Your anaesthetist will discuss the risks with you before your operation. You should try to stop smoking or drinking alcohol in the weeks before surgery, as doing so will reduce your risk of developing complications.

You may also be advised to lose weight ,and if you can you should increase your activity levels in the weeks before surgery, as this is likely to reduce your risk as well.

In most cases, the benefits of being pain-free during an operation outweigh the risks.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018