GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– If you’ve ever had surgery, a tooth extraction, or given birth, you’ve likely experienced anesthesia.

It’s used in various medical procedures and comes in many forms.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, a nurse anesthetist unpacks what exactly happens during the process.

Anesthesia’s main purpose is to help a person’s body endure various medical procedures. It comes in many forms.

“Different types of anesthesia would include local anesthesia, regional anesthesia, sedation, and of course, general anesthesia.”

Ellie Kameen, Nurse Anesthetist, Bon Secours St. Francis

Ellie Kameen, a nurse anesthetist, says general anesthesia is administered through an IV, gas, or both.

“This is used most frequently, just in order to achieve a total loss of consciousness for different types of surgeries,” said Nurse Kameen.

Under general anesthesia, the patient will be completely unconscious and unaware of their surroundings. It is reserved for more invasive and serious surgeries.

Meanwhile, sedation is used more in minor surgical procedures.

Nurse Kameen says there are 3 different levels of sedation– light, moderate, and deep.

“Light sedation would be where a patient is awake, but maybe just a little bit more relaxed… with moderate sedation, you remain sleepy, but more aware of your surroundings… and then with deep sedation, you are totally asleep, but you can respond to repeated noxious stimuli”

Ellie Kameen, Nurse Anesthetist, Bon Secours St. Francis

Sometimes, you may just need numbing medicine directly at the surgical site. This is called local anesthesia.

“You might encounter this in a doctor’s office if you are having a biopsy done or maybe in the dentist’s office for something,” said Nurse Kameen.

Nurse Kameen says regional anesthesia also uses local numbing medicine.

“But these are typically used in larger volumes to cover another part of the body, like an entire limb. Another type of regional anesthesia that we utilize is neuraxial anesthesia and this would include an epidural like for labor pain, or a spinal, like for a caesarian section,” said Nurse Kameen.

Nurse Kameen says all types of anesthesia are generally safe.

“With all of the tools, technology, and knowledge that we have at our disposal, anesthesia has really never been safer,” said Nurse Kameen.

Like with any procedure, there are always risks. Nurse Kameen says your doctor will consider your age, social factors like drug and alcohol use, and whether or not you’ve had problems with anesthesia in the past.

To submit a health topic for our ‘Ask the Expert’ series, click here.