If doctors are going to put you under general anesthesia, they’ll often tell you that you’ll be asleep for the procedure. They just do this to calm your nerves and make it sound more natural, however. The reality is that anesthesia does not put you to sleep.
It puts you into a coma.
This is why people often have concerns about using anesthesia in the first place. They may worry that they will not wake up after being put under. Though rare, that does happen. They may also worry that doctors will make a mistake, perhaps giving them too much anesthesia. Some errors made during surgery can lead to life-long injuries or even death. Again, though these cases are rare, they do occur.
A very common fear that people have is that they will become conscious during the procedure, perhaps because they have not been given the proper amount of anesthesia. This is where you can really see the correlations to a coma, rather than sleep. Someone may not be able to move or communicate at all — they’ll essentially be paralyzed — but they may feel everything that is happening to them. During major surgery, this can be very painful and frightening, even if they are not technically at any higher risk of passing away during the surgery than they would be otherwise. It’s a traumatic experience.
This isn’t to make you afraid to use anesthesia, but just to make sure you are aware of the risks. Mistakes do happen, and you must know what rights you have after such an incident.