Hypnosis Before Surgery

Just one hypnosis session can significantly improve the outcome of a surgery and the healing and recovery afterwards.  Numerous studies published in medical journals show that often less anesthesia is needed, operating times are shorter, and patients have fewer complications, less post-operative pain, and heal faster.  Hypnosis helps patients feel relaxed and positive in body and mind – before, during, and after surgery.

For five months, Margaret watched as what had started as a tiny pimple on her right lower eyelid grew larger. When it could seen clearly from several yards away, she paid a visit to her doctor, who told her that her eyelid appeared to be mistakenly growing a new tear duct in the wrong place, and referred her to a plastic surgeon to have it removed.

“Oh, and I suggest,” the doctor said, handing her a card, “that beforehand, you arrange a session with this medical hypnotist. Some of my other patients have seen him, with very good results.”

Margaret wondered: why was her usually staid, conservative physician recommending a hypnotist, of all things? But she decided to try it, to see what this was all about, so after she scheduled the surgery, she called the hypnotist and made an appointment.

In the waiting room just before her operation, Margaret plugged her earpieces into her MP3 player and started the recording the hypnotist had made for her. Minutes later on the operating table, she pressed her thumb to her middle finger and silently said a single word to herself, just before she felt the needle pricks to numb the lid.

As he was about to start cutting, the surgeon looked down at Margaret’s beatific expression and said to her, “Are you, um, – hypnotized?” 

“Yes,” she replied quietly, smiling.

Afterwards in the his office, the surgeon handed Margaret a prescription. “Take these for the pain,” he said. She nodded. “How’d it go?” she asked. “Easy and quick,” he smiled. “Almost no bleeding. I want to see you back in three days.”

Sensation returned a couple hours later, but since there was no pain to speak of, Margaret never filled the prescription. There was no swelling either. A faint purple streak showed up later that night; that and the single black suture were the only evidence that anything had occurred.

A typical session begins with hypnotist guiding the patient into a light trance state, a state of focused attention, followed by positive suggestions and affirmations regarding the surgical team, the procedure itself, and the outcome, reducing stress and anxiety and predisposing the patient to expect less pain, bleeding, and swelling and to anticipate a rapid healing.

The patient is given a post-hypnotic suggestion to be able to take him- or herself back into a hypnotic state by performing some action (touching thumb to one finger) and/or silently repeating a cue-word. The hypnotist usually records the session and the patient given a CD or MP3 file to listen to just before and/or (if it is allowed) during the surgery (this is effective even when total anesthetic is involved).
A medical hypnotist may charge anywhere from $80 to $200 for a single pre-surgery session.

Pre-surgery hypnosis is helpful for all types of operation, from minor out-patient procedures to dental surgery and cancer biopsies to major reconstructions for burn and accident victims. Post-surgery hypnosis is also effective in promoting healing and well-being during recovery.

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