Hypnosis is a complementary medicine technique that can help a person better manage undesirable experiences and behaviors. Research has shown that hypnosis techniques can help reduce pain, nausea, vomiting, stress, and anxiety. Hypnosis is performed by experienced hypnotherapy practitioners. There are a variety of hypnosis techniques.
A study looked at 200 women who had a breast biopsy or a lumpectomy. In some cases the lymph nodes also were removed. All of the women received some combination of local and intravenous anesthesia for their surgery. Half of the women had hypnosis just before surgery; the other half had a calming discussion ("empathic listening") just before surgery. The researchers found that the women who had hypnosis needed less anesthesia during surgery and had less pain and nausea after surgery. The women who had hypnosis also had less discomfort, fatigue, and emotional upset.
Hypnosis before surgery is not routinely available today, but it is available at some hospitals. If more research confirms the results of this study, hypnotherapy may become more available in time. If you're planning surgery and would like to consider preoperative hypnosis, talk to your surgeon. Your surgeon will be able to tell you whether hypnosis is available at your hospital and how to proceed.
During breast cancer treatment, complementary medicine techniques such as hypnosis can help you find physical, mental, and emotional balance while conventional medicine does its work. To learn more about some of the most common techniques, visit the breastcancer.org Complementary Medicine section.