Recovery from Anesthesia & Going Home | MedStar Health

MedStar Medical Group Anesthesiology providers are experts in helping patients recover quickly and safely. Here’s what to expect after your procedure.

A nurse sits with a patient and his wife.

Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS)

Your recovery will vary based on your procedure and the type of anesthesia you received, but for all uses of anesthesia, we strive to use:

  • A best-practice protocol to minimize nausea and vomiting

  • Various modes of pain relief, using non-opioid pain medications, when possible

Patients are able to recover much quicker and safely today thanks to innovative technology and pain management techniques. MedStar Medical Group Anesthesiology follows Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols to get you back to the life you love as soon as possible after a procedure. We equip you with the information you need to play an active role in your recovery so you can heal more quickly than traditional care.  

Our ERAS protocol focuses on the following:

  • Preparation: Our care team helps you thoroughly prepare for your operation by giving you personalized information during your pre-anesthesia testing appointment.

  • Pain Relief: Good pain control will help you regain strength to move and sleep well, so we use a combination of pain relief techniques to minimize your discomfort.

  • Mobilization: As you recover, it’s important that you perform deep breathing exercises and begin walking, as you feel well enough to move. Regular exercise following surgery will help improve your breathing and reduce the risk of infection or blood clots.

  • Nutrition: We help you optimize recovery by letting you know when and what to eat before surgery, and we’ll keep you nourished after surgery so you have the nutrients necessary to recover more quickly.

Managing your pain

As you recover in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), family or visitors will be invited to see you once your care team determines it is safe.

Depending on the type of anesthesia you received, you may be groggy or uncomfortable. Our anesthesiologists and certified registered nurse anesthetists are experts in managing your pain using a variety of techniques, including:

  • Epidural analgesia – Your anesthesia provider will place a thin tube, called a catheter, in your back. The tube remains there throughout the procedure so your care team can deliver medicine through the catheter as you need it. Following surgery, you’ll continue to receive pain relief medication through the catheter.

  • Nerve blocks – Medication is injected around large nerve groups to reduce pain in a specific area of the body

  • Opioid medications – Pills taken orally to manage pain

In some cases, you may need to stay in the hospital overnight. For outpatient procedures, you will be able to go home on the same day.

In either case, your care team will give you specific instructions before you leave the hospital so you can recover safely at home. You can also expect a phone call from your nurse 24 to 72 hours after surgery to see how you are recovering and to answer any questions you may have.