Are you anxious about an upcoming surgery? Is there anything you can do to reduce post-operative pain and improve the overall surgical experience? Just listen to your fave play list before, during or after surgery, according to a review of over 70 studies published in The Lancet.
A team of UK researchers included 72 clinical trials involving nearly 7,000 patients in their systematic review to assess whether music improves recovery after surgery.
They included clinical studies in which any form of music was initiated before, during or after surgery and was compared with standard care or other non-drug interventions (e.g., massage and relaxation).
The studies varied in terms of number of participants, procedure, use of anesthesia, music type, timing of music delivery and duration of music.
“The analysis showed that music played during the peri-operative period reduced post-operative pain, anxiety and pain meds and improved patient satisfaction.”
Pain, the need of pain medications and anxiety levels were reduced most when music was played before surgery rather than during or after. When patients selected their own music there was a slightly greater reduction in pain and use of pain medications. Music reduced pain even when given under general anesthesia although the effects were larger when patients were conscious.
David H. Rahm, M.D., founder and medical director at VitaMedica says, “These findings are consistent with my experiences with patients in the operating room over the past 30 years. To improve the surgical experience for my patients, I have experimented with music and aromatherapy to provide a calmer and more relaxed environment in the OR. In addition, I have found that music can positively affect the mood of the surgical staff which definitely helps to optimize care.”
The findings are consistent with the beneficial effects of music on patient well-being. Several mechanisms might explain the effects of music. Listening to music can affect perceived intensity and unpleasantness of pain, reducing patients’ sensation of pain.
Dr. Rahm continues, “In addition to listening to music in the peri-operative period, patients can do a number of things to help them feel empowered and recover more quickly after a surgical procedure. VitaMedica’s Recovery Product line, which I developed nearly 20 years ago, helps to optimize healing by supporting the nutritional needs of surgical patients.”
The practical implementation of listening to music may be challenge depending on your procedure and where it is scheduled. An aesthetic plastic surgeon, which is compensated by the patient, may be more inclined to add this feature than a surgeon who is reimbursed through insurance. Also, a smaller surgery center may be better able to accommodate your needs than a larger hospital.
Even if you can’t coordinate getting music piped in during your surgery, you can listen to your favorite music beforehand. As it turns out, this might be the best time to enhance your overall surgical experience.
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.