Women who had a 15 minute experience with hypnosis prior to breast cancer surgery experienced less pain and their recovery went more smoothly. The comparison group, who received supportive conversation with a psychologist, but none of the guided relaxation, pleasant visual imagery or soothing techniques of the group receiving hypnosis helps sift out that the way hypnosis helped these patients. The positive effects are evidently not solely due a positive interaction or distraction.
The WebMD article on this study concluded:
The study adds to other research that demonstrate that hypnosis "substantially reduces pain and anxiety during surgical procedures while decreasing medication use, procedure time, and cost," says an editorial published with the study.
"If a drug were to do that, everyone would be using it by now," writes editorialist David Spiegel, MD, of the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department at Stanford University's medical school.
Hypnotherapy has definite, measurable benefits that are well worth tapping into. The difficulty with hypnosis is that there are a lot of providers that have little education beyond a certificate program who have a tendency to smuggle in all sorts of untested nonsense and mix it in with what has been established as effective practice with clinical hypnotherapy. Your best bet is to find someone who is a member of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis to ensure that you are going to have a professional experience and not be exposed to all manner of quackery.