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Pre-surgery hypnosis may help reduce pain

August 29, 2007|From Reuters

CHICAGO — Women who underwent hypnosis before breast cancer surgery needed less anesthesia and had fewer side effects than women who got counseling instead, researchers said Tuesday.

"This is a randomized clinical trial of 200 patients that really showed beneficial effects for patients," said Guy Montgomery of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. "It really works well."

One hour before breast cancer surgery, 100 women underwent hypnosis for 15 minutes, and the rest had 15 minutes of counseling with a psychologist.

Those who received hypnosis needed less anesthesia during the operation and reported less pain afterward; also, their procedures took less time.

They spent 11 minutes less in surgery, amounting to $773 a patient in reduced surgical costs, according to the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Montgomery said patients first needed to be debunked of any misconceptions.

"We're not going to make you cluck like a chicken or sing like Madonna," he told patients. "Hypnosis is not mind control. It's more like focused attention."

Women in the study were directed to think of a relaxed place, often a beach scene.

Montgomery said the point was to set expectations for reduced pain.

"It's not magic. But it will make you feel better," he said.

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