Modern anesthesia is a relatively safe and uneventful means of providing pain relief during and after surgery. There are three principal types of anesthesia: general, regional and local.
General anesthesia causes you to lose consciousness via the administration of intravenous drugs and/or inhaled gases.
Regional anesthesia blocks sensation to a section of your body while you remain awake (although you may be sedated). Spinal and epidural anesthesia fall into this category, as do peripheral nerve blocks of the arms and legs. These methods can be used to help manage post-operative pain as well as provide anesthesia for surgery.
Local anesthesia affects only the specific location of the surgery (usually used for less extensive procedures). You may be sedated or remain awake for a local.