Anesthesiologist Questions Anesthesiologist

How soon after anesthesia can you drive?

I will have a small surgery under general anesthesia. I want to know how soon after anesthesia can you drive?

13 Answers

The standard post-operative instructions are to wait 24 hours before driving or operating heavy machinery. Some people feel that this time frame is not necessary, but your anesthesia and surgical teams will not want to deviate from the standard. Good luck!
It varies. However, It is universal protocol to have a designated driver after anesthesia.
24 hrs
Usually, the next day is ok as long as you’re not taking further narcotics You will probably be told this in your post-op instructions.
Most facilities recommend no driving until the following day.
I would wait until the following day to drive when you can be sure the medication is out of your system. Be aware of any additional pain medicine you might need the next day after surgery as these too may impair your ability to drive.
The next day.
After a same-day surgery procedure (if you will be going hame after the procedure), do not do any tasks that require higher cognitive functions for at least 24 hr. This includes driving, operating heavy machinery, making important legal decisions, or signing contracts. This is conditioned on not taking prescription pain meds such as Percocet, Vicodin, and Norco. If you take prescription pain meds you should follow the same precautions as you would after anesthesia: No driving or performing any other tasks that require higher cognitive functioning until you no longer take those medications.

Jay R. Shayevitz, MD MS
The standard response is 24 hrs, but it really depends on the anesthetics used; could be shorter.
24 hours
The following day.
That's a good question. In general, it is considered reasonable that anyone receiving anesthesia of any kind, even sedation, should wait at least 24 hours before getting behind the wheel of a car. The anesthesia medicines used for general anesthesia especially, can have a prolonged residual effect that may impact your reflexes enough to impair your ability to drive safely. Vapor (gas) type medicine, for example, will largely dissipate shortly after initially being turned off. This why you awaken quickly after surgery. But not all of the medicine leaves your system immediately. Some of this gas medicine will "redistribute" to tissues like fat or bone, from where they will continue to slowly leak until all of it has gone from your system. Because those tissues get a lower blood flow, this residual gas medicine may take a long time to leave, days in some cases. So, even though you feel awake, there may continue to be some residual impairment of your reflexes. Other factors may also impact on your ability to drive safely. Pain medicine after a surgery may impact your response times. Discomfort from the surgery itself may also impede your ability to respond quickly. Everyone's sensitivity to these factors is different.
Bottom line: listen to the recommendations of your surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurses regarding when you can safely return to driving.
We do not recommend driving on the first day of having anesthesia, usually, people feel more energetic on the second day but use your own judgment to choose the safest recovery for yourself.
Hopefully, this answers your question, feel well !!