Prepare for surgery with hypnotherapy - experience the benefits

Surgery can be a very nerve-wracking experience, even if the surgical procedure is necessary and welcomed by the patient. Hypnotherapy can help to prepare for surgery making it easier to feel calmer and recover faster.


Surgery can be daunting

It’s perfectly natural to feel nervous and scared before any planned surgical procedure. The hospital environment itself can feel out of our comfort zone. In addition to the clinical surroundings, there are exposing surgical gowns and tight white surgical stockings to contend with, before preoperative consultations and medications administered, etc.

Consultants warn of potential, often rare, complications and side effects of each procedure offered in order to enable a patient to make an informed decision before signing a consent form which states that the risks involved have been understood. The ‘what could go wrong’ risks can be alarming and appear very daunting, especially to someone who has no previous experience of surgery.

Fear of the unknown or the ‘what if’ can increase stress levels, especially as the planned procedure date draws nearer. Yet for recovery and healing to take place it is far from ideal to be in a state of stress or anxiety.

As most of us already know, stress has a detrimental effect on the body. Stress can increase blood pressure, increase pain as muscles are held more tightly, increase heart rate and put the body into a primitive fight, flight or freeze survival mode, rather than putting optimum energy into healing. The more nervous and fearful we become the harder it becomes to relax.

If not in any pain or discomfort from the condition requiring an operation, the prospect of coming round post-op to pain and discomfort can be even more daunting. Fear around not waking up, waking up during the surgery or something going wrong can also be very disconcerting. Even the most positive patient, with an optimistic approach to their forthcoming operation, can feel nervous once they have been admitted and are waiting for their turn to be taken down to theatre. 

How can hypnotherapy help?

Preparing for surgery in advance with hypnotherapy can have really positive benefits and make a noticeable difference to a patient. Hypnotherapy engages the subconscious mind to prepare for healing and recovery before the procedure has taken place. Fear can simply melt away by talking directly to the subconscious mind. Suggesting that the procedure will go perfectly as planned, carried out by a team of professionals who expertly carry out these procedures on a daily basis with a high success rate, as though they are part of a finely tuned orchestra playing in harmony.

Feeling calm, relaxed and optimistic, the subconscious mind can focus on activating healing the moment the surgery begins, in turn speeding up the healing process. Pain can be controlled using a combination of medication given by the medical team and hypnosis techniques.

Numerous studies have been undertaken where hypnotherapy has been found to have significantly favourable outcomes when carried out pre-operatively. One example is described here as there are too many to refer to them all.

The International Board of Hypnotherapy reports

"One area of particular interest now is the preoperative use of hypnosis to prepare patients for surgery. This has been found to significantly reduce the pain/unpleasantness/discomfort experienced post-operatively as well as reducing the amount of pain medications required, and reducing the overall recovery time.

"A major study of preoperative hypnosis for breast cancer surgery patients was published in September 2007 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, (JNCI Vol. 99, Number 17). This study used only a 15-minute preoperative hypnosis session. The results showed:
Hypnosis reduced the time in surgery by an average of 10.6 and also showed a significant reduction in use of pain medications that are titrated to patient’s condition.
The hypnosis reduced costs to the institution by $772.71 per patient."

Studies using hypnotherapy have found it can help to:

  • Reduce fear, stress and anxiety pre surgery
  • experience less pain and discomfort after surgery
  • need less pain medication post surgery
  • feel less nausea post-anaesthetic
  • experience less fatigue afterwards
  • reduce hospital stay due to accelerated healing and fewer complications

Experiences of hypnotherapy for surgery

A client was scheduled for a major operation in a few weeks from her first appointment with me. She had not had any surgery prior to this and was feeling quite anxious about the entire process. She knew the surgery was necessary and had opted to go ahead with it.

Under hypnosis her subconscious mind was reassured that the operation was standard for this surgeon and would be highly successful, healing would commence as soon as the procedure began and recovery take place effectively day by day post-op. She was given a personalised recording to listen to at home to reinforce these suggestions after her second appointment.

A day ahead of her surgery she described feeling composed and really positive and optimistic about going for the procedure. All went as planned, it was successful and convalescence was rapid. She couldn’t believe the difference hypnotherapy had made to her feelings about the entire procedure and told me she would highly recommend hypnosis in future.

Self-hypnosis to prepare for surgery

I will now discuss my own personal experiences with self-hypnosis to prepare for surgery, healing and recovery. I will detail my previous traumatic experiences of childbirth and here I issue a trigger warning.

Not only have I worked with clients to help them to prepare for surgery, healing and recovery, I have also used self-hypnosis myself before two operations. I found I was much calmer and trusting than I imagined I would be. After previous trauma in an operating theatre, where I later encountered PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) with flashbacks as a result of both myself and my unborn baby becoming critically ill and no guarantees either of us would make it through the emergency caesarean section, I am naturally wary of being in a similar environment. I had recovered fully from that past traumatic experience and worked with a colleague of mine who is an experienced hypnotherapist to heal from my PTSD.

Using self-hypnosis, visualising and preparing my subconscious mind for a planned procedure I needed, I found on the day of my operation I felt optimistic that it would go smoothly and I would recover fairly quickly.

On the walk down to the operating theatre I chatted to the accompanying theatre staff member and was remarkably calm as I lay on the trolley in the anaesthetic room. After drifting off to sleep easily I awoke in recovery feeling totally relaxed and positive. I required oxygen for some time after leaving recovery but felt so composed and knew all was well.

There was some discomfort and fatigue in the days post-op. Each day I knew I was healing and recovering. Following advice, and accepting that I was not magically fully recovered overnight, I was grateful for recovery as it progressed. 

Hypnotherapy is certainly worth considering in preparation for any planned surgery as it is reputed to be valuable in reducing discomfort and stress. If you are interested in hypnotherapy for surgery preparation please contact me or another qualified hypnotherapist listed with Hypnotherapy Directory.  

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wolverhampton, South Staffordshire, WV5
Written by Laura Hawkins, Dip. Hyp., Adv.DPLT, DPLT, GQHP, B.Ed. Hons
Wolverhampton, South Staffordshire, WV5

Laura Hawkins - hypnotherapist, regression therapist and advanced past life regression therapist.
Please see my Hypnotherapy Directory profile for further information

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