Hypnosurgery is the term given to an operation where the patient is sedated using hypnotherapy rather than traditional anaesthetics. Hypnosis for anaesthesia has been used since the 1840s where it was pioneered by the surgeon James Braid. During hypnosurgery, the hypnotherapist helps the patient control their subconscious reflexes so that they do not feel pain in the traditional sense. Patients are aware of sensation as the operation progresses and often describe a tingling or tickling sensation when pain would normally be expected. Hypnosis is used in surgery for pain management, to control spasms in the alimentary canal, during rehabilitation and as anaesthesia during operation.
Hypnosedation, a combination regimen of hypnosis, local injection of analgesics and mild sedation, is more frequently used. The patients—mostly aged or other persons that run an increased risk under general anesthesia—are mildly sedated and brought in a state of increased alertness by having them listen to a story in the operation theatre. Anesthesiologists at the University of Liège in Belgium have performed over 4800 surgical interventions, mainly in ENT and thyroid treatments, over the past 10 years.
The main benefit of hypnosurgery is that there are fewer side effects, and generally a patient can leave hospital sooner than if normal anaesthetics are used. A reduction in blood loss and post-operative nausea have also been recorded.
Hypnosis may also be helpful post-surgery in helping to facilitate faster healing in patients, with one study reporting faster tissue healing in patients who use hypnosis during surgical recovery. Several other studies have shown a psychological link with healing and recovery. In a study of patients up to seven weeks after undergoing a surgical procedure, researchers found greater healing and improvement in patients who had used hypnosis over those who only received supportive attention or standard "standard postoperative care."
- Cedercreutza, Claes (1961). "Hypnosis in surgery". International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 9 (3). doi:10.1080/00207146108409665.
- Wobst, Albrecht H. K. (May 2007). "Hypnosis and surgery: Past, present, and future". Anesthesia & Analgesia 104 (5): 1199–1208. doi:10.1213/01.ane.0000260616.49050.6d.
- Shine, Jerry (2003). "Hypnosis Heals". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
- Bowers, Kenneth S. (November 1979). "Hypnosis and healing". Australian Journal of Clinical & Experimental Hypnosis 7 (3): 261–277.
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-  University of Liege, Belgium
- More4: Hypnosurgery live - the entire episode is available for download online (must register to watch).
- BBC news story
- Hypnosurgery Live episode viewable at Google Video