Archive August 2018 XIX, No. 8

The Calm Before the Surgery

A look at all-natural alternatives therapies that relax patients.

Jeannette Sabatini, Associate Editor


ALTERED STATE Hypnotic recordings can calm patients before, during and after surgery.

From aromatherapy and acupuncture to music and massage, surgical facilities are turning to nonpharmacological alternative therapies to safely calm patients before surgery without drugs or sedation. When a patient is more relaxed, the less anxiety and pain he feels — and the less pain medication he needs. Here’s a look at a few of these low-cost interventions your colleagues are using.

  • Hypnosis. Hypnosis has gone from hocus-pocus parlor trick to popular alternative therapy that some say reduces anxiety and pain almost as well as IV Versed. There’s no pendulating pocket watch, only ear buds and a loop of hypnotic recordings that lulls the patient into a state of deep relaxation in pre-op with soothing suggestions that his sensations are disappearing and reassurances that he’ll recover well and feel comfortable.

Hypnosis doesn’t put patients to sleep. It’s a form of guided meditation or altered consciousness, a tool for imagination or distraction to bypass reality, says Lynette Bear, DNP, CRNA, MBA, senior director of anesthesia administration at the Laser Spine Institute and a clinical hypnotist. As a patient goes deeper, he becomes more suggestible. Some Laser Spine patients listen to a hypnotic recording for about 10 minutes in pre-op. Dr. Bear designed the loop recording, which has no beginning or end.

Another recording she designed for use during anesthesia maintains the hypnotic state throughout surgery, instilling feelings of well-being, safety, security and comfort. “It’s important to state suggestions as a 'positive' phrase, suggesting what will happen,” says Dr. Bear. The intraop recordings also mention “light appetite,” which seems to help decrease post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV).

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