Has anyone had REGIONAL anaesthetic for mastectomy?

Help! As my mastectomy gets closer, I am getting more and more scared about general anaesthetic. I had one when I was a child but not since and I am beyond terrified about going under and not coming back up… Has anyone had regional anaesthetic for the operation or know if it is possible? I want to speak to the anaesthetist (though time is running out as my op is next Tuesday) but if it is never done there is probably no point.

Can anyone advise?

L x

Please don’t be scared of the general. I was too and was surprised at how Ok it was. You just drift off and when you wake up you can’t believe you’ve had the op - it’s like 10 minutes has passed! It is different to sleep in that you have no sense of time passing.

I don’t think any doctor will agree to do a mastectomy under a local, it probably wouldn’t be possible. I know Nigel Mansell is meant to be allergic to gen. anaesthetic and when he had a foot op he had an epidural but that might not work for breasts! Plus it would be awful to feel paralysed in your whole body.

You’ll be OK honestly, it’s state of the art these days.
Love and good luck

Hi L,

It is unlikely that a local block will be possible as it is in the chest area and will restrict breathing etc. When an epidural or spinal block is given, patients are monitored intensively to ensure that the block does not become too high and cause complications. Because the operation is not long, the general anaesthetic will not be too heavy and you will recover quickly. Please do not be scared of it. You will be seen by the anaethetist on the day of the operation and will be able to discuss any fears that you may have then. People have had operations such as vasectomy under local but I am not aware of mastectomy’s being done that way.

Good luck for the 11th.


I had WLE and snb in july and was also terrified of general anaesthics, at the time i begged my onc to let me have a regional anaesthic as i too had a bad expierence as a child,unfortunately my onc refused saying it couldnt be done and i had to have a general , I realy neednt have worried though because it realy was fine and i can honestly say it felt like no sooner i was asleep i was awake again although when i looked at the clock 4hrs had past. Honestly if i can do it anyone can cos i realy was petrified .Anaesthics are not like they used to be and they give you a anti sickness drug first through the canular and i never even felt sick at all.I felt fine when i woke up and was happy to be eating a nice lunch . I know how you feel but try not to worry if you do have to have a general as you realy will be fine. Good luck for next tues for your op and please let us know how you get on.
All the best
Lots of hugs
Lindiloo x

Thanks so much. I don’t know what is wrong with me. The last two weeks since dx I have been up and down but okay but now the op is approaching I am scared. Was anyone very sick afterwards? Does the anti-sickness pill work? I must ask for that definitely. I am so going to be a nervous wreck on Tuesday and here’s me having fantasies yesterday of being the perfect patient…

L xx

Hi Flaxhigh,
I wasnt sick at all they give you the anti sickness drug through the canular in your hand just before the anaesthic , i never felt sick at all after waking up . I was even eating quite soon after as i was starving .The nurses and anaesthisist are lovely and i was a right weeping willow at the time but they all understand how we are feeling and will put you at ease .It realy is ok nothing to worry about and honestly after years of me trying to avoid general anaesthics i can definately say that if i ever have to do it again i now know its nothing to worry about.

Lindiloo x

Hi Flax

I was exacty the same as you - I was (and still am) terrified of anaesthetics. However, the anaesthetist was the first person to see me during my booking in process for my op. He talked me through the process, and asked if I had any questions. I asked him if there was something they could give me before they gave me something to knock me out lol. They did give me something, I have no idea what it was - but I was already extremely drowsy before I was wheeled down to theatre - the last thing I remember is seeing the anaestetist wave at me from behind the curtains and shout ‘see I told ya you’d be fine’ - then the next thing I knew I was back in bed with hubby at my side!

I did feel slightly queasy when i came round but it soon passed and as long as you tell the nurses how you feel that can give you an anti-sickness injection which gets into the system quicker.

Good luck

margaret x

I wasn’t sick at all when I woke up, I was hungry, having starved from the night before! Typical me I suppose. I just remember an oxygen mask as the nurse was trying to get my levels up but the 2nd op I was totally fine. The problems start when you come round and you are in pain but you will be given tabs for that. Then the whole area is bruised but again, that goes. It’s a piece of cake, honestly! I was the world’s biggest wuss.

Hi Flaxhigh

I asked the same as you as I always get sick with a general. Flat refusal I’m afraid - it has to be a general.

Have to be honest - it wasn’t that bad - and as operations go it really didn’t hurt that much afterwards either. Had mine 10 days ago and the drain is still in but hopefully coming out in the next few days.

Good luck with it all - see you later in “radio therapy”!

I had some diazepam before my op so I was happily spaced as I walked (or weaved my way!) to theatre. I am claustrophobic and was worried about having the mask over my face. The porter, bless him, brought my special cuddly bunny along with my bed to theatre, and the anaesthesiologist gave my bunny some gas before me – made me feel like a kid and really cared for (I was 45!!). Next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery - with my bunny next to me!!

The staff were great and gave me lots of lovely drugs so I didn’t feel any pain or sickness at all.

Must have been ok cos I’m having another mastectomy in April!

Thinking of you,
jacki xx

Oh dear it all sounds very familiar to me! I was so terrified of the anaesthetic that I had to go for hypnotherapy for 3 weeks before my operation. I had always had a bad reaction previously when given a general with my 3 children the last one being 19 years ago. Needless to say the hypnotherapist made a lot of money out of me about £200 in all and really it made no difference to me at all, i was still petrified and i mean petrified!

Anyway i remember being wheeled down on that dam trolly to the theatre being terrified, thinking this is it the last time i ever have consiousness, bound to slip my mortal coil on the operating table as they will give me too much or worse too little! I remember being in a little room that was before the operating theatre, never saw the operating theatre, I was told they were checking my name tag and the next thing i remember is my husband and daughter laughing at my bedside as apparently i told them i had not had a baby, i am 54! The four hour operation was like 1 minute, i remember nothing and did not have sickness or discomfort of any kind, i had a morphine pump for all of 3 hours until my husband knocked it out and they did not bother to put it back in. The next day i was up and about and looking forward to my many visitors.

Nobody could have been more petrified than i was and all for nothing, i was not in the slightest bit worried about the mastectomy and losing a breast as i was so wrapped up in the terror of anaesthetic!!

Please do not worry about it, hard i know but if my experience is anything to go by, it is a breeze and i wasted so much time worrying when i could have been better served doing other things.

Best of luck

Hi Flaxhigh

you are echoing my fears, my op is next wed, its not the surgery that bothers me it is the anaesthetic, I can cope with any amount of pain, but the going to sleep scares the s**t out of me. so I will be thinking about you on Tuesday

Love Linda

Hi lindsyloo and flaxhigh,

I too was really worried about gen.anaesthetic as I had a very bad experience about 25 years ago and had been told ALWAYS to discuss it with anaethetists at any gen.an. in the future.

Since then I have had 4 general anaesthetics over the past 12 years. Things have changed an awful lot I think since those bad days and I have had no problems at all since then on some very long ops as well. Not even any nausea after them so I hope all goes well for you both.


Hi lindsyloo & flaxhigh
Had my mastectomy on 3 Nov. I’m another one who was gibbering, teriffied, frozen with fear about the anasthetic and operation, as they were wheeling the trolley to the anasthetic room I was looking for a way to jump off and run away!! Had never had an op before.Tell staff at the hospital how scared you are, get them to put in in your notes (i am claustrophobic and was terrified of being put ina lift, so they put that on my notes as well) They offered me a premed to stop me feeling so tense, in the event I decided that I wanted to stay alert, (my husband says its a control thing!!) I was amazed when I woke up & it was done, I was a bit sick but you are hazy and dozy so you don’t really worry about it too much. i had a morphine drip but didnt use it very much after the first day. Have had no pain, just a bit stiff and uncomfortable. Was out of bed sitting in the arm chair the morning after my op. Just make sure you do the exercises , they are hard work at first but a month on my arm movement is nearly back to normal.
Good luck, lots of us will be thinking of you next week
xx Mand

Thanks so much everyone. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who is more scared of the general anaesthetic than the actual mastectomy - I think I will be more affected by that after the op. I am so scared of saying goodbye to my two kids (2 and 5). I don’t want to be upset in front of them. Oh god let Tuesday roll on quickly.

Linda - best of luck on Weds, will be thinking of you.

L xx,

Hi Flaxhigh

The anaesthetic is really not bad at all. I was scared, crying in fact as they wheeled me into the anaesthetic room! But I had met the anaethetist a couple of hours before the operation and told him that I have emetophobia (phobia of being sick) and he gave me everything possible to stop me being sick

I completely trusted him as they had done this for my chemo too and I have not once been sick.

I woke up in the recovery room on a trolley with slight nausea but mostly needing a pee! so the lovely nurse brought me a thing to pee in lying down and then they took me back to the ward and I tucked into my crackers and chocolates that my friends had left, and a lovely cup of tea.

You will be fine, don’t worry.

Cecelia. x

Thanks so much Cecelia,

I will definitely be asking for something for the sickness. I hate being sick. Just want to get on with it now. One more day with two breasts…

L xxx

Very good luck, hope it goes well for you.

Be sure to ask for your anti sickness and you’ll be fine

Cecelia. x

Thanks for the reassurance from everyone

not long now flax

thinking of you