Using Music in the Operating Room

Using Music in the Operating Room
Using Music in the Operating Room

You may have a favorite playlist to listen to as you work or hit the gym. Perhaps you have driving music, or that which you prefer for date night.

Studies have revealed that listening to music in the womb can have an impact on an infant’s development. It’s even been said that listening to music while studying or while recovering from a trauma or surgery can have a positive impact.

The same can be said for the soothing impact of music on patients during surgery, which is pretty intriguing. We imagine surgical procedures as a deeply serious concentration time but is it possible that your surgeon is listening to Beyoncé as he operates? Quite possible.

According to a study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal some surgeons believe music actually reduces stress and operative time, while others think music is a distraction and should be avoided. As with what we wear or eat, our musical choices – even during surgery – tend to be based on personal preference.

“This really is a personal thing. If a surgeon feels more at ease with music then stress will be lower and chances are, the operation itself will simply go better. If a surgeon prefers silence, then music can be a distraction. Personally, I prefer music and most often have a varied playlist in the operating room,” says Adam J Rubinstein, MD, FACS, Vice Chief, Department of Surgery, and Chief, Section of Plastic Surgery at the Jackson North Medical Center.

We may discover that while there’s a certain type of music we work out to, there are other types we prefer to relax. “If a surgeon is more relaxed and comfortable because there is music playing (or for any other reason), the surgery will flow more smoothly and likely be completed faster. In my case, I know operations are more efficient and more seamless when music is playing,” says Dr. Rubenstein.

The type of music played in an OR depends upon the tastes of the surgeon. “In my operating room we play a very wide variety of music as my tastes are eclectic. We might listen to anything from classical, to rock, to rap, to swing, to opera. Whatever my iPod chooses at the moment is what we hear. If I prefer something different we switch the track,” says Dr. Rubenstein. “We keep my iPod on shuffle and only change the track if someone doesn’t like the particular song,” says Dr. Rubenstein.

Why should this matter? Well, perhaps it shouldn’t, but as a patient entrusting my physical well-being to someone else – especially when undergoing surgery, I like to know how my doctor operates and why. Somehow, knowing they’re relaxed and enjoying the procedure helps me relax and enjoy it too, even if I’m unconscious. Happy surgeon, happy outcome I suppose, so if music makes my plastic surgeon a happy camper, then I’m a happy camper too. Or, if silence is golden for my particular practitioner, that’s fine by me as well – as long as I’m in good, happy hands.

I also just think it’s interesting!

About the Author

Aly Walansky is a lifestyles writer with over a decade of experience covering beauty, health, and travel for various esteemed publications. Her blog, A Little Alytude ( was launched in 2006 and continues to be a strong voice in the lifestyles arena. Based in the ever-trendy Park Slope area of Brooklyn, she divides her time between her shih tsu Lily, her soap opera addiction, and scouting out fun new martini bars.