Preparing for theatre

Having an operation can make you feel scared and nervous. Finding out as much as you can about what's going to happen will make you feel less frightened.
Without knowing what your surgery is for, it's tricky to tell you much about the operation itself.
It would be a good idea for you to chat to your doctor. They'll be happy to answer all your questions, explain what the problem is and tell you what they plan to do.

Surgery and anaesthetics

Some operations are done when you are awake. But a lot of surgery is usually done while you are asleep. This is called being under general anaesthetic.
General anaesthetic is brilliant because it puts you in such a deep sleep that you don't feel any pain when you're having the operation done.

Special help

The general anaesthetic will be given to you by a doctor called an anaesthetist.
They will come and see you before your operation and explain everything that is going to happen.
You'll be able to ask questions, and tell them if there is anything that you are especially worried about.

Before the anaesthetist gives you the anaesthetic, they may give you something called asedative. This is usually a pill or liquid which will help you to relax before you have the anaesthetic.

Some people feel sleepy when they have the sedative and others get giggly. Some just fall asleep.

Taking a sedative makes the whole experience less frightening.

While you're asleep

The anaesthetists will also look after you while you're asleep. They will check your breathing, heartbeat, temperature, and blood pressure to make sure you stay safe and comfortable.
Your nurses will help you prepare before you have the general anaesthetic. You may have to change into a hospital gown and have a wash using a strong soap.
When you're ready, you will be taken to the place where they do operations called theatres.

Staying calm

Sometimes general anaesthetic is given to you as a special air, which you breathe in through a clear plastic face mask. It will make you feel very relaxed and you will eventually fall fast asleep.
There is no need to be scared of this mask, but make sure you tell your doctor if you feel frightened or nervous. They can reassure you.


Sometimes the anaesthetic is given to you through a needle and small plastic tube instead of using a mask.
The needle usually goes into the back of your hand but it doesn't hurt because they will numb the area with some special cream beforehand.

When you wake up

You will not wake up until the operation is all over. The drugs make you sleep very deeply so you will not feel or see anything until it is all finished.

When you wake up, your parents will be allowed into the room to see you.


Anyone who has an operation is having it to make them feel better. Doctors, nurses and surgeons are all trained to make sure they help you without hurting you or scaring you.

It helps to remember you will be in the best possible hands and your health is the most important thing to everyone treating you.