Anesthesia - After Surgery

The Post-anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

When your surgery is over, you will be observed for a period of time in an area known as the PACU, also known as the Recovery Room. There, the nursing staff will watch you closely. You should tell the nurse if you are having any pain, nausea or any other discomfort. Once your condition has met certain criteria, you will be discharged from the PACU.
Admission to the Inpatient Unit

Depending on your type of surgery and condition, you may need to stay overnight or longer in the hospital. If this is the case, you will be taken from the PACU to your hospital room. Your family and friends can join you in your room. Any personal belongings stored by hospital staff will be brought to your room.
Outpatient Surgery

If your procedure does not require an overnight stay, you may go directly home. If you need additional observation before being discharged from the hospital, you will be brought to a special room for a short period of time. There, your nurse will watch you closely until you are ready to go home. Before going home, you will be given instructions on how to take care of yourself. Instructions should include use of any equipment, any special care or procedure you need to do, medications, any activity restrictions, diet, a follow-up appointment plan, any signs to watch for and to report, and a contact number for your doctor or nurse. If you do not receive this information, do not understand the instructions, or have any questions, please speak with your doctor or nurse.

Important information for outpatient surgery patients:
  • You must have someone drive you home after surgery
  • Make arrangements for someone to stay with you for the rest of the day or for 24 hours after your procedure if you had general anesthesia.
  • Stay at home the remainder of the day and rest. If you do not feel recovered the next day, continue to rest for another day or two. Even minor surgery may be taxing on your physical strength and resistance.
  • If you have small children, make arrangements for someone else to care for them.
  • Do not operate a vehicle or dangerous equipment, sign contracts or make important decisions for 48 hours after surgery.

Information about driving and conducting business after your surgery

Even though you will probably feel well after the first day, your reflexes are depressed and can take up to 48 hours to return to normal. Therefore, we recommend that you do not drive, operate heavy machinery, sign contracts or make important decisions for 48 hours after surgery.

What are common side effects?
Common side effects such as headache, sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, thirst and shivering can occur in a greater or lesser degree with all types of anesthesia. However, you may experience other, more specific, side effects, depending on the type of anesthesia you were given.There may be other side effects the anesthesiologist will tell you about. It is important to tell your doctor or nurse if you are having any of these side effects. Your doctor anticipates these situations and may be able to provide some relief.

If you will be going home after surgery, arrange for someone to drive you and stay with you for the rest of the day. Make transportation and personal arrangements in advance. Provide the admitting nurse with your driver’s name and contact number or location.