Surgery is not usually a pleasant experience. I remember years ago when I broke my nose boxing I had to have surgery to correct it. It was the first time I had ever been "put under" for a procedure, and it was horrible.
I woke nauseous from the chemical anesthesia as well as the large amounts of blood I had unconsciously swallowed during surgery. I spent the next week in a state of pain and discomfort, although it was helped some by the pain killers I was prescribed. However, the pain killers had their own side effects that I wasn't too keen on.
This was for a simple broken nose. What about someone undergoing a hip replacement, chemotherapy, amputation, or skin grafts from a bad burn? Modern medicine is wonderful, but there are some things you can do to mentally boost your healing capacity. Healing is a body and mind process. One of these things you can do to make surgery more pleasant is medical hypnotherapy.
The unconscious mind is in control over so many different functions of the body: Our breath rate, heart rate, the hormonal systems, and even vasodilation of blood vessels in the body.
"When I was a student of hypnosis at the University of California, Irving, School of Medicine, under the direction of Donald Shafer, M.D., I saw videos of hypnotic masters changing their own blood-flow patterns. One video featured an East Indian physician in a hypnotic trance who put a needle through a vein in her hand and then withdrew it. The vein was bleeding from both sides. Then, under her control, she made the bleeding stop on one side, then made it bleed again, then made the other side stop and bleed again, then made both sides stop. It was an amazing display of brain-body control."
- Change Your Brain, Change Your Body: Use Your Brain to Get and Keep the Body You Have Always Wanted by Daniel G. Amen
By having hypnotherapy performed BEFORE you go into surgery, positive suggestions can be made that actually allow your body to slow unnecessary bleeding, and reduce muscle guarding. Muscle guarding is when muscles involuntarily tense in order to protect against a physical trauma. When muscles are tense, it can make the doctors job even more difficult.
When the muscles are relaxed and you are bleeding less, the surgeon's job becomes infinitely easier. The patient's body is working with them, instead of against them.
Hypnosis has been used to great effect to control symptoms such as nausea. It doesn't matter the cause, from new mothers with morning sickness to those undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Hypnosis can be used to reduce the feelings of nausea and allow you to eat again.
This doesn't mean that all anti-nausea drugs should be abandoned, but it can make them so much more effective by amplifying the results with the power of the mind. Here are some studies showing hypnosis reducing pain and the side effects of cancer
Reduce Nausea – “One of the first modern applications of hypnosis with cancer patients…[multiple] studies reported positive results including statistically significant reductions in nausea and vomiting.”
Decrease Pain – “Hypnosis has been demonstrated to effectively control pain and emotional distress and to improve recovery…results revealed a significant, large effect size…indicating that surgical patients in hypnosis treatment groups had better outcomes than 89% of patients in control groups.”
Source: Montgomery GH, Schnur JB, Kravits K. Hypnosis for cancer care: over 200 years young. CA Cancer J Clin. 2013;63(1):31-44.
When a person is in a state of stress, their entire body reacts to protect them. The sympathetic nervous system responds by putting them in 'fight or flight' mode, raising the cortisol levels in the body, and restricting blood flow to non-essential areas. This is great if you are being attacked by a tiger, but not so great if you are trying to heal from surgery.
The body doesn't know that the the incisions a doctor is making are a GOOD thing for you. It's just as traumatic to the body as that tiger attack.
By using hypnotic relaxing techniques that communicate directly with the unconscious mind, it allows the body to properly relax. It will activate the parasympathetic nervous system and put the body into a state of healing we like to call 'rest and digest'. That's because the body is in a natural peaceful state where it works to absorb nutrients from your food and repair any cellular damage that may have occurred. Because I'm a data nerd, here is some great information from Harvard Medical School showing that Hypnosis helps bones heal 41% faster from fractures.
Study One - Six weeks after an ankle fracture, those in the hypnosis group showed the equivalent of eight and a half weeks of healing.
Study Two - Three groups of people studied after breast reduction surgery. Hypnosis group healed "significantly faster" than supportive attention group and control group.
Source: Ginandes C, Brooks P, Sando W, Jones C, Aker J. Can medical hypnosis accelerate post-surgical wound healing? Results of a clinical trial. Am J Clin Hypn. 2003;45(4):333-51.
Prepare you emotionally
There are those that have gone through surgeries in the past that did not go well. Perhaps there was a complication, or they contracted an infection. Either way they left the hospital with emotional scars. This new phobic response can prevent them from seeing doctors and having potentially life saving surgery. Not just from medical procedures, but also dental procedures.
I regularly work with clients in my office in Boise, ID to help them resolve trauma. The unconscious mind tends to hold on to strong emotional events, even if its not in the best interest of the whole person. I help people resolve fears, and to prime their body to undergo a successful procedure.
If you have any questions about me, medical hypnosis, or how hypnotherapy can be applied to surgery, please contact me. The easiest way is through my contact form, or you can always give me a call.