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Special Considerations for Outpatient Surgeries

  1. What is ambulatory anesthesia?
  2. What should I wear?
  3. Will I need someone to take me home?
  4. What kind of anesthesia will I get?
  5. What instructions will I receive?
  6. What can I expect from recovery at home?

What is ambulatory anesthesia?

Ambulatory anesthesia is tailored to meet the needs of ambulatory surgery so you can go home soon after your operation. Short-acting anesthetic drugs and specialized anesthetic techniques as well as care specifically focused to the needs of the ambulatory patient are used to make your experience safe and pleasant.

What should I wear?

If at all possible, wear loose-fitting clothes that are easy to put on and will fit over bulky bandages or surgical dressings. Leave your valuables at home.

Will I need someone to take me home?

Yes, you must make arrangements for a responsible adult to take you home after your anesthetic or sedation. You will not be allowed to leave alone, drive yourself home, or take a cab or bus home unaccompanied. It is strongly advised that you have someone stay with you during the first 24 hours. Please tell your surgeon if you think you need extra help at home.

If you have local anesthesia only, with no sedation, it may be possible to go home without someone to accompany you. Check with your doctor first.

What kind of anesthesia will I get?

Being an outpatient, some techniques may allow you to recover more quickly with fewer side effects. The ambulatory anesthetic technique will be selected so that side effects such as severe pain or nausea and vomiting are avoided, so you will be discharged after surgery in a timely manner.

What instructions will I receive?

Your care team will give you specific instructions. In general, for 24 hours after your anesthesia:

  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages or use nonprescription medications.
  • Do not drive a car or operate dangerous machinery.
  • Do not make important decisions.

You will be given telephone numbers to call if you have any concerns or if you need emergency help after you go home.

Recovery at Home – What can I expect?

Be prepared to go home and finish your recovery there. Patients often experience drowsiness and minor after-effects following ambulatory anesthesia, including muscle aches, a sore throat and occasional dizziness or headaches. Nausea may also be present, but vomiting is less common. These side effects usually decline rapidly in the hours following surgery, but it may take several days before they are gone completely. The majority of patients do not feel up to their typical activities the next day, usually due to general tiredness or surgical discomfort. Plan to take it easy for a few days until you feel back to normal. Know that a period of recovery at home is common and to be expected.


Be sure to follow the instructions given to you while at the hospital. These instructions are important to permit the fastest, safest and most pleasant recovery possible. If you have any questions, you should contact your physician or the anesthesiologist on call.

Adapted for NetWellness with Permission – University Anesthesiologists, Inc.

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