Hypnosis improves outcomes of breast surgery

January 1, 2008

Women who participate in presurgical hypnosis before undergoing excisional breast biopsy or lumpectomy require about one third less propofol and lidocaine and report about half the pain intensity, unpleasantness, fatigue, and discomfort, and about one quarter the nausea and emotional upset following the surgical procedures, when compared to women who receive nondirective empathic listening.

Women who participate in a 15-minute presurgical hypnosis session conducted by a psychologist before undergoing excisional breast biopsy or lumpectomy require about one-third less propofol and lidocaine and report about half the pain intensity, unpleasantness, fatigue, and discomfort, and about one-quarter the nausea and emotional upset following the surgical procedures, when compared to women who receive nondirective empathic listening (attention control), according to the findings of a randomized clinical trial involving 200 women.

And, not incidentally, the brief hypnosis session reduces costs by about $772 per patient, mainly by reducing time in the operating room.

A limitation of the study was that patients were not blinded to their group assignment. Whether the results would be similar in a blinded situation and with the hypnosis administered by a nonpsychologist is unclear.