Sedation is the use of medicines to promote relaxation and relieve discomfort and anxiety. Moderate conscious sedation is a type of sedation. Under moderate conscious sedation, you are less alert than normal, but you are still able to respond to instructions, touch, or both. Moderate conscious sedation is used during short medical and dental procedures. It is milder than deep sedation, which is a type of sedation under which you cannot be easily woken up. It is also milder than general anesthesia, which is the use of medicines to make you unconscious. Moderate conscious sedation allows you to return to your regular activities sooner.

Tell a health care provider about:

  • Any allergies you have.
  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).
  • Any problems you or family members have had with sedatives and anesthetic medicines.
  • Any blood disorders you have.
  • Any surgeries you have had.
  • Any medical conditions you have, such as sleep apnea.
  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant.
  • Any use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, or street drugs.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including:

  • Getting too much medicine (oversedation).
  • Nausea.
  • Allergic reaction to medicines.
  • Trouble breathing. If this happens, a breathing tube may be used to help with breathing. It will be removed when you are awake and breathing on your own.
  • Heart trouble.
  • Lung trouble.

What happens before the procedure?

Staying hydrated

Follow instructions from your health care provider about hydration, which may include:

  • Up to 2 hours before the procedure – you may continue to drink clear liquids, such as water, clear fruit juice, black coffee, and plain tea.

Eating and drinking restrictions

Follow instructions from your health care provider about eating and drinking, which may include:

  • 8 hours before the procedure – stop eating heavy meals or foods such as meat, fried foods, or fatty foods.
  • 6 hours before the procedure – stop eating light meals or foods, such as toast or cereal.
  • 6 hours before the procedure – stop drinking milk or drinks that contain milk.
  • 2 hours before the procedure – stop drinking clear liquids.


Ask your health care provider about:

  • Changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
  • Taking medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can thin your blood. Do not take these medicines before your procedure if your health care provider instructs you not to.

Tests and exams

  • You will have a physical exam.
  • You may have blood tests done to show:
  • How well your kidneys and liver are working.
  • How well your blood can clot.

General instructions

  • Plan to have someone take you home from the hospital or clinic.
  • If you will be going home right after the procedure, plan to have someone with you for 24 hours.

What happens during the procedure?

  • An IV tube will be inserted into one of your veins.
  • Medicine to help you relax (sedative) will be given through the IV tube.
  • The medical or dental procedure will be performed.

What happens after the procedure?

  • Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored often until the medicines you were given have worn off.
  • Do not drive for 24 hours.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.