How Long Does It Take to Recover From General Anesthetic?

Most people awaken from anesthetic immediately after surgery in the recovery room and feel no ill effects after 24 hours. Those with long, complicated surgeries may sleep longer after coming out of surgery.

It may take up to a week for the body to rid itself of the anesthetic used during surgery. However, healthy people usually feel no effect of the medications after the first 24 hours. Still, for those 24 hours, it is important to remember that driving, operating heavy machinery and making important decisions should be avoided.

General anesthetic is administered through the vein as well as through a mask placed on the patient's face before surgery begins. After the surgery is complete, the anesthesiologist reverses the sedation process, allowing the patient to wake up in the recovery room.

Before an operation, a patient must not eat or drink for at least eight hours prior to surgery. This is because while the patient is asleep, it is not uncommon to vomit because of the anesthetic. Besides posing a choking risk, this can also cause the contents of the stomach to be aspirated into the lungs which may result in pneumonia or other infection. This type of problem can also prolong the patient's hospital stay.