Many of my patients are afraid before surgery – afraid enough to cancel their surgery from fear of general anesthesia alone (~25%)! Fear is natural when faced with uncertainty, especially uncertainty around your body in an unconscious state, like the medical coma of anesthesia. Patients may be afraid of many things before surgery, like:
· The pain after surgery
· When they will be able to return to work
· The unknowns of anesthesia
· Who will be able to take care of them after surgery
· The success of the surgery (eg cancer surgery, etc.)
· And much more
Unfortunately, if these fears are not controlled, they can cause anesthesia and surgery complications. High anxiety before surgery can increase pain after surgery, nausea and vomiting, and possibly prolonged recovery time.
My Patient's Top Fears Before Anesthesia
Fortunately, most of my patients’ fears around surgery and anesthesia tend to center on a few major questions:
- “Needle phobia” or being afraid of needles and the IV needle placement.
- Whether they will feel the pain of surgery while they are under anesthesia (anesthesia awareness).
- Will they have resistance to the anesthesia. This comes up more commonly in my patients with red hair and Ehlers Danlos syndrome.
Overcoming the Top Surgery and Anesthesia Fears
In this video, I’ll break down these most common fears to help you take control of your anxiety before surgery! By taking control of these fears, you can feel more relaxed before going under, and optimize your chance of a successful and comfortable surgery.
The solutions don't center on just statistics, but rather:
- How to prove to yourself that the anesthesia will work on you BEFORE you fall asleep. Less uncertainty leads to less anxiety and fear!
- Leaning into curiosity about the experience to reduce the sensation of fear of anesthesia. Specifically, engaging curiosity about the minutes you'll have after pre-anesthesia and actually falling asleep.
- Tips to make the IV needle go in well less pain and discomfort!
Overcoming Fears Outside the Operating Room
The tips I provide are readily applicable to other scary situations in life. Learning to overcome these fears before surgery can thus also have powerful benefits outside the operating room! Mindset and curiosity are two of the most powerful tools before surgery. Are you surprised that optimizing mindset is also important for success in other parts of life?
If you feel that I left out any major fears, let me know!