The postoperative course of surgical patients can have a tremendous impact on the surgical outcome and on patient satisfaction. One of the most significant issues is postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) which, despite being a common side effect of general anesthesia, has received little attention in the plastic surgery literature. The incidence and potential consequences of PONV are frequently underestimated and consequently the need for prophylaxis is often overlooked. There are significant consequences to this seemingly minor morbidity that extend beyond patient discomfort and dissatisfaction. In addition to being considered a significant undesirable outcome by patients, severe cases of PONV may result in postoperative complications and unplanned hospital admissions. In this article we overview the mechanism, pathophysiology, and risk factors for PONV and provide a comprehensive algorithmic approach to its management.
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