Does Undergoing Major Surgery Age Your Brain?

The new study claims undergoing a major surgery could double your chance of experiencing a substantial decline in mental skills such as reasoning, memory, and language ability. Researchers compared the effect to adding 5 months to the age of your brain. We’re talking about major surgery here, with general anesthesia. And they looked at 7,000 British Civil Servants and that’s a pretty large study. Other studies have looked at this before and it’s not as though you can sit here and prove cause and effect, with certainty. But I believe this as a big deal because in the medical profession we tend to poo poo the potential effects of sedation. And in this case, general anesthesia. And I don’t think we should! If you need a surgery, you need a surgery. I mean we know how general anesthesia works, I mean you’re using a, a gas, an inhalent type thing that we know the longer the procedure the longer the operation, the more anesthesia, the more of that is actually sitting in the brain. It gets absorbed by the brain. If you’ve had general anesthesia sometimes it’s difficult to wake up. The longer the procedure the longer it takes you to wake up. General anesthesia is incredibly safe. And of course there are always potential, there’s always a potential for complications. But the reason I thought this topic was appropriate is, as I mentioned in our meeting, my father, this summer, had- he just had a really rough bout of surgery after surgery and was under general anesthesia sometimes twice a week. Hours and hours-
And I remember talking to his doctor saying, “look if there’s any way we can do this next procedure without general anesthesia” and there is still a reticence in modern medicine to even acknowledge a connection and I said, “look dad, here’s the deal, if we can save you one more instance of general anesthesia, I think we need to. And yes, your doctors are probably not going to acknowledge this because this is not a common thing for doctors to talk about.” Right So if you need general anesthesia, get it, it is safe, but at the same time, there are a plethora of procedures out there, even minor surgeries where you can use local nerve blocks. You can use other methods to numb the area, slight sedation, you don’t always need full general anesthesia. And that has become somewhat the norm because, as you said, Mary, why do you like it? ‘Cause you get knocked out. Oh yeah! I felt good! I just had my colonoscopy, that was awesome. That’s IV medication, so that’s a little bit different. Well I was breathing There was no IV
You’re the only person who likes getting your colonoscopies. That is the weirdest thing. I can’t wait to go back. Well there is, in medicine there is a wide range of- there is something known as conscious sedation, where you’re still awake and breathing but, I don’t know, you know. And, and, and in medicine I might use that if I’m trying to reset a broken bone. Right And so, you can reset a broken bone and no one really cares.
Just gotta feel happy. But general anesthesia you can do that, but some prolonged, invasive, Exactly Orthopedic surgery,
Exactly intraabdominal surgery, brain surgery, In general- I mean you need general anesthesia. And that’s right. And what general anesthesia does, is it provides a very safe operating environment. So if you need it, get it. But again, there may be a few scenarios where well, do you need general anesthesia? Or can you use sedation with local nerve blocks? It’s just a conversation to have with your doctor if you’re undergoing an elective procedure and they say “Hey, would you like general anesthesia or alternatively we can do X, Y, or Z.” And I want to emphasize one thing in medicine, and this is important, I’m really proud of how we have perfected the art of using anesthesia and compared to the days of old, right? Where if you went under for surgery, you were kind of, you were doing this hoping you’d wake up. And it is so incredibly well done and for the most part safe and it’s a beautiful-think about the number of people in this country that go under general anesthesia. Millions everyday Yeah, so I don’t want people to be afraid of it, but be aware.


  1. Nerve blocks don't work on me. Colposcapy I had and I felt everything…. Turns out I have Fibromyalgia. Last time I had a major surgery I had an eptopic pregnancy that had to be taken away. I was under for hours and it took me over an hour to come round. Then I couldn't breathe at all. Very scary..

  2. My daughter had open heart surgery,she was a cleaver girl before the op. Really fast learner.
    Now she has what she calls brain fog. She can’t concentrate,can’t really work things out anymore.
    My daughter always wanted to work in a bank,but now she says probably couldn’t do it.

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