Why hypnosis for surgery?
Are you scheduled to have surgery in the near future?
How would it feel to really know, when the long-anticipated day arrives, that you’ve done everything you can to prepare your body for the experience? To know that it’s primed and ready to heal as quickly, easily and completely as possible? To feel calm, relaxed and even excited about what the future holds?
There’s no getting away from it, surgery can be stressful. As much as we try to focus on the long-term benefits, it’s completely normal to feel a bit nervous. And you may have additional stressors; concerns about how the family will cope while you are recuperating, anxiety about pain and/or recovery times and perhaps even a needle phobia or other unwanted complication to deal with.
Hypnosis helps you take back control
When you work with a skilled hypnotherapist who is trained in medical and dental hypnosis, you become an active part of your own support team.
- Just as athletes use hypnotherapy to rehearse winning a gold medal, so we can prepare both the subconscious mind and the body for a medical procedure. The more familiar an experience feels, the less stressful it is.
- Patients who are already relaxed tend to require less chemical anaesthesia, reducing recovery time.
- Hypnotherapy is known to be effective in supporting immune function thus reducing the risk of infection.
- The deep relaxation of hypnotic trance optimises conditions for activating the body’s own natural healing processes.
- Visualising one’s body repairing and restoring itself helps the process happen more quickly, comfortably and completely.
- Hypnosis is highly effective in the management and control of pain.
- Hypnotherapy helps nurture a positive mindset, which is known to be beneficial to health and wellbeing.
If you’re ready to explore hypnotherapy for yourself, book a free, no-strings consultation with me now.
If you want to learn more about how and why hypnotherapy helps, read on…
A little stress never hurt anyone… did it?
We have known for decades that chronic or long-term stress suppresses our immune system . This in turn inhibits the body’s natural healing processes – the last things we want to do during surgery.
Research has shown that patients who experience anxiety before an invasive medical procedure go on to show significantly higher levels of fatigue, tension and pain, even three months after surgery . Meanwhile, people who expressed higher levels of worry before undergoing minor surgery went on to record greater changes in heart rate and blood pressure, proved more difficult to anaesthetise and were more likely to report headaches, vomiting and/or pain afterwards .
When hospital makes things worse
Just arriving at hospital can be enough to induce stress. ‘White coat syndrome’ (raised blood pressure in clinical environments) is real , and research has shown that standard pre-op procedures cause a significant spike in the stress hormone cortisol . Cortisol is released (along with adrenaline) when our sympathetic nervous system is activated; this is the well-known ‘fight or flight’ response that gives us the mental and physical strength we need in life-threatening situations.
Since our logical mind steps in to prevent us fighting off the nursing staff or running away, these hormones continue to course unchecked through our system. As a result, despite all our best efforts we are often pretty ‘wired’ by the time the anaesthetist appears!
And of course, the more stressed we are, the more chemical anaesthetic is required to lower our vital functions to the appropriate level for surgery. And the more anaesthetic we need, the more our body has to contend with before it can start the healing process – and the longer it takes to recover.
How hypnosis can help
In the same way that stress and fear activate the sympathetic branch of our autonomic nervous system, feeling calm and relaxed stimulates its opposite: our parasympathetic nervous system, sometimes referred to as the ‘rest and digest’ response.
It’s normal and healthy for us to shift between these two responses, as long as we also return regularly to the balanced state known as ‘homeostasis’. It is homeostasis that provides optimal conditions for digestion, immunity – and healing.
Hypnotic trance is a state of deep physical and mental relaxation  which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps us return to homeostasis. This is just as much the case when we are facing surgery  as it is in any other stressful situation.
Imagining (sometimes called visualising) the desired outcome of a situation reduces anxiety,  while worrying about what might go wrong increases it. When visualisation is reinforced by hypnotic suggestion it becomes even more effective .
So whether you are experiencing ‘normal’ levels of anxiety around your forthcoming surgery, have a specific fear or phobia that is complicating matters or are finding it hard to let go of a previous, difficult experience (yours or someone else’s) – hypnotherapy can help.
Harnessing the power of your own healing abilities
Our body’s ability to heal itself is one of life’s greatest marvels.
Modern medicine is incredible, especially when dealing with the ‘mechanics’ of the body. However, when it comes to the actual process of tissue regeneration, even the best doctors in the world can do no more than provide optimum conditions for the body to heal itself.
Think about what happens when you cut your finger: as long as you keep the wound clean and maintain contact between the two sides, the wound will ‘magically’ start to rebuild and repair itself until you can’t even see the join. And it does this over and over again throughout our lifetime.
Healing – like breathing, heart rate, digestion, our immune response, etc – is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. For most of us, our breath is the only one of these functions that we can also control intentionally.
Hypnosis gives us direct access to our subconscious mind, effectively ‘turbo-charging’ the mind/body connection. This means that, as well as returning the body to homoeostasis and reducing stress, it can also help reduce the required dosage of chemical anaesthesia, minimise blood loss during surgery, optimise the immune response , control and manage pain  and accelerate the natural healing process.
How I can help you
Many of the benefits mentioned above have been observed even when pre-surgical hypnosis is delivered by nurses using standardised scripts . Imagine how much more effective it can be when you work 1:1 with a professional hypnotherapist who:
- Teaches you how to access the hypnotic state quickly and easily
- Tailors hypnotic suggestions to your own unique circumstances, and
- Creates bespoke recordings to support you before, during and after your procedure.
So whether you’re preparing for brain surgery, removal of an ingrowing toenail, or anything in between, contact me now to arrange a free, no-strings, confidential conversation about how I can help you every step of the way.
Don’t just take my word for it
Releasing the fear of fear
How hypnotherapy helped demystify John’s pathological fear of hospitals and prepare him for essential surgery.
John*, a fit and healthy father of two in his early 50s, contacted me because he’d been told ‘out of the blue’ that he needed open heart surgery… more
“People need to know about this”
Remedial yoga and hypnosis eased the stress of Steph’s long-overdue hip replacement.
“I joined Helen’s yoga classes after a diagnosis of hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. In my 40s, and already waiting for a hip replacement… more
“I had a 5% chance of full recovery”
Hypnotherapy helped Melanie release the trauma of emergency surgery and beat the odds.
“I truly believe that the hypnotherapy I received from Helen was an integral part of my full recovery from brain surgery… more
Hypnosis Heals (Harvard Magazine: 2003)
Would you go under the knife with nothing but a hypnotist to numb the pain? (Daily Mail: 2010)
Mind Over Matter: The Use of Hypnosis to Replace General Anesthesia (E-Magazine by Medical Expo: 2021)
I am a doctor, and having hypnotherapy for IBS has changed my belief about pain (The Guardian: 2022)