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If you are having surgery, your doctor will give you a drug called an anesthetic. Anesthetics reduce or prevent pain. There are four main types.

  • Local: numbs one small area of the body. You stay awake and alert.
  • Conscious or intravenous (IV) sedation: uses a mild sedative to relax you and pain medicine to relieve pain. You stay awake but may not remember the procedure afterwards.
  • Regional anesthesia: blocks pain in an area of the body, such an arm or leg. Epidural anesthesia, which is sometimes used during childbirth, is a type of regional anesthesia.
  • General anesthesia: affects your whole body. You go to sleep and feel nothing. You have no memory of the procedure afterwards.

The type of anesthesia your doctor chooses depends on many factors. These include the procedure you are having and your current health.

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