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Mindfulness-Based Pain Management in Plastic Surgery: Integrative Approaches for Patients

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Mindfulness-based pain management in plastic surgery is an integrated and innovative approach for improved patient care. Read this article to learn more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. A.k. Tiwari

Published At April 9, 2024
Reviewed AtApril 9, 2024


Plastic surgery procedures are highly effective, but they often result in postoperative moderate to severe pain in patients. If left uncontrolled, the pain may even worsen, resulting in poor wound healing and poor patient satisfaction. The patient’s well-being may be reduced tremendously. Current treatment strategies involve the use of opioid medications for analgesic effects. However, opioid analgesics can cause serious adverse effects on prolonged use. Patients may develop opioid dependence and may develop opioid toxicity due to overdose. Hence, the development of non-pharmacological techniques for postoperative pain management is critical to decrease the dependency on opioid use among patients. These mindfulness-based pain management methods aim to provide patient satisfaction and effective postoperative surgical outcomes.

What Is Mindfulness-Based Pain Management?

Patients usually experience stress before and after the plastic surgery procedure. Mindfulness-based pain management is found to be an effective adjunctive pain control therapy. Mindfulness is referred to as the awareness that arises due to intentionally paying heed to the surrounding moment experiences in a non-judgmental way. Mindfulness-based methods involve proper training in mindfulness meditation techniques. The participants will be made to relate to painful stimuli (negative experiences) non-judgmentally in a receptive manner. It is believed that this will help alleviate the pain and attenuate its severity.

What Are the Factors Associated with Mindfulness-Based Pain Management?

Mindfulness-based pain management is associated with a number of factors, including:

  • Diversion of thoughts (distraction).

  • Relaxed breathing techniques.

  • Social support.

  • Bodily posture.

  • Placebo (treatment having no active properties).

  • Mental and physical conditioning of the patient.

  • Facilitator attentiveness.

  • Relaxed environment.

What Is the Mechanism of Action of Mindfulness-Based Pain Management?

There are certain neurocognitive mechanisms for mindfulness-based pain management.

  • Attention Regulation- The patient is asked to acknowledge any distractions and concentrate (focus) on one object.

  • Body Awareness- Here, the patient is asked to focus on any activity or object within the body, such as breathing activity.

  • Regulation of Emotions- Emotions are regulated either cognitively or behaviorally. Cognitive regulation refers to having control over paying heed to a certain stimulus or having an altered response to that particular stimulus. Behavioral regulation is referred to as the inhibition of certain emotions through expressions in response to that stimulus.

  • Change in Self-Perception- The response of an individual is not allowed to become habitual. It keeps on changing with the change in experiences. This eventually leads to a change in the perspective of self.

How to Manage Pain with Mindfulness in Plastic Surgery?

When a patient undergoing plastic surgery experiences pain, they are asked to acknowledge it and all the thoughts and responses that come along with it. They are then asked to gently breathe through it. They are asked to mindfully observe their discomfort and aid their bodies to relax. There should be no expectation of a sudden pain reduction. However, the patients are asked to watch it carefully and mindfully. These mindfulness-based interventions have positive effects on alleviation of chronic pain intensity.

What Are the Stress Relief Techniques Used in Mindfulness-Based Pain Management in Plastic Surgery?

The techniques mainly focus on igniting the body’s natural relaxation response in order to eliminate stress and anxiety in patients undergoing plastic surgery procedures. These techniques include:

  • Deep Breathing Technique - In this technique, the patient is asked to breathe in oxygen and let it flow into their belly till they are comfortable. This should not be a forced breathing activity. Then, they should breathe gently through their nostrils and exhale through their mouths in a regular manner.

  • Visualization Relaxation Technique - The patient is asked to sit in a comfortable position and close their eyes. They have to take a few deep breaths by making use of the deep breathing technique, as explained, and then they have to visualize (imagine) themselves in a relaxation scene. They have to put themselves in a relaxing scene.

  • Meditation and Yoga - This technique is done to calm down their minds and reduce stress. Here, they are asked to close their eyes and focus on one particular thing, such as their breath, a physical object, an imaginary point, or even a mantra. They should bring mindfulness into their meditation.

What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness-Based Pain Management in Plastic Surgery?

  • It is a minimally invasive technique to reduce postoperative pain in patients who have undergone plastic surgery procedures.

  • It helps to reduce opioid dependence in patients.

  • It helps to calm their minds and induce peace in their minds through mindfulness-based pain management techniques.

  • It helps to regulate emotion regulation.

  • Helps to decrease depression.

  • Improved physical health.

  • Better mental concentration.

  • Improved cognitive behaviors.

  • Increased memory.

  • Improved wound healing.

What Are the Drawbacks of Mindfulness-Based Pain Management in Plastic Surgery?

  • For some patients, these mindful techniques may increase the stress quotient.

  • Inhibition of sleep in some patients.

  • It may stimulate negative emotions in some people.

  • It may induce psychosis in severe events.

  • Requires skilled trainers and extensive practice.

  • The patient may re-experience a traumatic memory.

  • They may experience a panic attack also.


Guided mindfulness-based pain management is an innovative technique used to alleviate postoperative pain in patients who have had cosmetic surgery. It helps to decrease opioid dependency among such patients. It helps reduce stress among these patients, but this integrated approach has its own demerits. Trained staff and diligent practice are required to perform such mindful techniques. More research is needed to integrate its usefulness in pain management in such patients for speedy recovery after plastic surgery procedures.

Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. A.K. Tiwari
Dr. A.K. Tiwari

plastic surgery-reconstructive and cosmetic surgery


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