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Important instructions to follow after receiving anaesthesia

The following information is being provided to help you understand:

  • the effects that anaesthesia can have on you
  • things you should not do after sedation or general anaesthesia
  • how to return to normal eating and drinking
  • what complications to be aware of
  • when and how to seek medical advice

Type of Anaesthesia

  • Sedation
  • General anaesthesia
  • Local anaesthesia

Subtle effects of anaesthesia can last more than 24 hours after the procedure, depending on the type of anaesthesia used. Although you may feel normal within the first 24 hours, your reflexes and mental ability may still be affected without realising. You may also feel dizzy, lightheaded, sleepy, drowsy, tired and weak. After a general anaesthetic, body aches, sore muscles and a sore throat may also be present.

For safety and legal reasons, it is important that you do not do any of the following for up to 24 hours after receiving an anaesthetic:

  • drink alcohol
  • drive a car or operate machinery
  • return to work
  • make important personal/business decisions/sign important documents
  • care for young children, toddlers and babies.

Please follow the post-operative instructions provided to you. It is also important during this time to have your Responsible Person stay with you. It is not essential for patients who receive local anaesthetic only to have a Responsible Person.

Responsible Person caring responsibilities

At any time throughout the specified time, one Responsible Person can hand over to another. For example, the person taking the patient home from hospital does not need to be the same person as the one who cares for the patient at home. The responsible person needs to:

  • be able to continue to provide care and keep the patient safe while at home
  • be available to take the patient home from hospital by car or taxi
  • be able to continue to provide care and keep the patient safe while at home, or hand over to another responsible carer
  • be available to stay with the patient for 24 hours after their procedure, if it was performed under anaesthetic (excluding local anaesthetic)
  • be available to help with medication
  • be available to help with hygiene (i.e. toileting, showering and dressing)
  • be available to help with the organisation of the household after the procedure (i.e. shopping or meal preparation)
  • seek medical help if needed (i.e. drive to doctors, telephone or call an ambulance).

Diet and fluids

Following an anaesthetic it is important to drink plenty of fluids to help flush the anaesthetic medicines through your system and to rehydrate. However, anaesthetics can cause some people to experience nausea and vomiting. To help manage this, gradually increase your diet, beginning with fluids that are clear (e.g. water, black tea, blackcurrant juice, apple juice, jelly). Then move to light refreshments when you feel you are ready, before returning to your normal diet.


If you experience any of the following, or if complications occur, please seek medical advice:

  • persistent nausea and vomiting
  • unexpected persistent bleeding from the wound
  • a high fever
  • problems with breathing
  • sleepiness.

Please contact your surgeon (specialist rooms), your local doctor (GP) or, in the event of an emergency, your nearest emergency department


If you need more information, please call your local Day Procedure Unit directly, or speak to your relevant hospitals’ emergency department.

Follow up

A follow-up call will be made by the nursing staff after your procedure to discuss your recovery and any questions you may have. If you have questions and you haven’t received a follow-up call, please do not hesitate to contact your local Mater hospital where you had your procedure.

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-400005
Last modified 01/6/2020.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 22/5/2020
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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