Summary: We all know the image: the surgeon in the operating room with the music blaring. This image alone says a lot about the way we think about plastic surgery. And, of course, we all listen to music, right? But does music actually have any benefits in the Operating Room? Recent research suggests that, actually, it might. It’s contrary what you might instinctively think, but music in the operating room may actually help surgeons close up wounds more efficiently, though the percentage of the efficiency increase will vary individually, of course.

music in the operating room

Music in the Operating Room

When you think of the operating room, where the plastic surgeon is diligently working to give you whatever new look you’re after—breast augmentation, facelift, tummy tuck and so on—you probably have an idea in your head that is informed more by television than reality. That’s okay, that’s how we all are. The truth is that modern surgical suites probably look only slightly the way you imagine them, especially if you’ve never been in one. However, there is one television cliché that actually does hold up in the real world: music. You know the image: a surgeon working with classical music playing in the background.

Now, this shouldn’t shock us. Music is an integral part of our lives, and there are many people who wouldn’t be able to get through the work day without a few tunes here and there (or, you know, all day—Spotify is essential for this). And the same is true with surgeons. Now, in the movies, surgeons are shown working to classical music because it tends to show them as being intelligent and sophisticated, which many surgeons are. But we probably shouldn’t make judgments about what kind of music they like and what that says about them.

We All Like Music

It is, however, important that surgeons get to listen to their favorite tunes when performing surgery. Recent research has suggested that surgeons who are listening to their favorite music will close incisions more quickly and more cleanly than those who are not. Now, of course, it’s difficult to assess any kind of added risk because of this (the study was conducted on surgeons doing “would repair” to pig’s feet), but it’s certainly an interesting finding. It definitely makes you want to make sure the surgical suite you’re operating in has a good sound system.

Now, there are several reasons why this might be. Music tends to help people relax, it can help set a good pace, and it can help someone stay focused. All of these elements are, of course, useful any time you need to perform a complex task (closing incisions certainly qualifies as a complex task). But there’s a certain amount of repetition involved as well. It’s my theory (and I’m neither a surgeon nor a researcher on this study, so take this only for what it is) that good music helps a surgeon stay in a “zone” between thinking too much and thinking too little.

An Efficient Surgeon is a Good Thing

The result is a surgeon that works efficiently, without thinking too much, but conscientiously. That can be important when it comes to all kinds of surgeries. For example, according to the website of the Milwaukee breast augmentation experts at Milwaukee Plastic Surgery, closing an incision during a breast augmentation effectively can help reduce scarring later on in the recovery process. This can be exceptionally important to patients down the road, as much of aesthetic plastic surgery is focused on minimizing or hiding scar tissue as effectively as possible.

Of course, at the end of the day, I would be surprised if anyone’s safety was compromised by music choices. After all, there are so many safeguards in place in a surgical suite and plastic surgeons receive so much training that the differences made by music are more notable for their interesting nature than for their impact on safety. That said, these results are certainly worth exploring further in the future. It would be interesting to note whether the genre of music matters or the operation being performed or the volume of the music. These findings could, in theory, one day help plastic surgeons make their procedures even more efficient.

Putting the Patient First

That’s not terribly different than what you and I are doing. You listen to music while you work or while you jog or while you make dinner—it helps the day go by faster and it helps you work better. I do the same thing. So what’s the “best” music for doing plastic surgery? Well, at least we know now that it’s not always classical music. It has more to do with the surgeon’s tastes. Just like it does with your job.

In the future, it may also be worth looking at what kind of role music plays in the healing and recovery process. After all, there are all kinds of ways that healing can be sped up or slowed down (positive vibes help healing, for example). So it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that music could have an impact as well. We won’t know for sure until the research is done, but something tells me such research isn’t all that far off.