Prior to your surgery, you will see your general surgeon for your preoperative appointment. During this time, your doctor will tell you what to expect during and after your procedure. They will also give you an instruction sheet or a booklet detailing the things you will need to do before and after your surgical procedure. Included in your preoperative information literature will be instructions on eating and drinking prior to your surgery. Here are the different types of anesthesia that will determine whether or not you can eat or drink prior to your surgical procedure.
Many types of surgery, including gallbladder removal, appendectomies, and most other abdominal surgeries require the administration of general anesthesia. If your surgeon has recommended general anesthesia, then the anesthesiologist will administer certain medications through an intravenous line or a facial mask to put you to sleep.
If you are having a general surgery procedure necessitating general anesthesia, then you will not be allowed to eat or drink before your procedure. General anesthesia temporarily stops your reflexes from working, raising your risk for aspiration. When your gag reflex is suppressed as a result of general anesthesia, food and liquids in your stomach can be aspirated into your lungs, which can cause a serious lung condition known as aspiration pneumonia.
The administration of local anesthesia refers to numbing only the specific area of the body where the surgery is performed. Local anesthesia does not stop your reflexes from working because you are fully awake, and you will not have any restrictions on your food or liquid intake prior to your procedure. Local anesthesia eliminates the risk for aspiration pneumonia caused by suppressed reflexes, and it also greatly eliminates the risk for postoperative nausea and vomiting, which is not uncommon in those who received general anesthesia. One of the most commonly used local anesthetics is lidocaine, which is also used to numb certain areas in your mouth prior to dental work.
If you are anticipating a surgical procedure, talk to your physician about your eating and drinking restrictions. You may be allowed to chew gum and even suck on a piece of hard candy prior to receiving general anesthesia; however, clarify this with your surgeon because these activities can increase the production of gastric secretions. When you follow your preoperative instructions, you are less likely to experience postoperative reactions, such as choking and aspiration pneumonia.