Is it dead silent, or is your plastic surgeon’s operating room filled with the rhyming raps of Ice Cube, the mellow tones of James Taylor or some time-tested tunes from the 50s and 60s? Who knows, your surgeon may secretly be a “Dead Head.”
Music in the OR
There have been a few studies conducted about the benefits (and possible distractions) with music in the operating room during surgery. Some believe music helps on several fronts, ranging from helping the surgical team concentrate and masking the industrial ‘white noise’ of the operating room equipment.
Alan Reznik, MD, a fellow with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, likes music, especially in lengthy surgeries. Teams need to fill in the time one way or another, and music may be a less disruptive way, he says. “It’s probably better to be passively listening to music than to actively be talking,” Dr Reznik says.
Another aspect is that music helps with collegiality, he said, and helps cut the tension associated with the gravity of potential mistakes.
“If you ever hit a big bleeder and blood is flying all over the place, you can’t be panicked… Music brings you to a calm state of mind,” he says. Maybe, then, music could be more benefit than threat, he adds.
Personally, he prefers music in the operating room — everything from opera to Taylor Swift — and he said his staff often chooses the tunes.
The art of Plastic Surgery combines with the art of …
Brian Brzowski, MD, a board certified plastic surgeon in Salt Lake City, admits he’s a big fan, “of all different types of music. So we listen to a big selection.”
But the DAY of the week is also important for his playlist. “Friday’s are a big surgical day for me and I love to operate on Fridays,” Dr. Brzowski tells The Plastic Surgery Channel. “So we usually are listening to anything upbeat. I have a funky Friday playlist that I like to listen to – that includes Kool and the Gang and Sister Sledge, those are the kind of artists that we listen to on that playlist.”
“And as soon as I start suturing the last patient, I have a closing playlist that is composed of about 15 songs that we listen to,” Brzowski continues. “And we have to hear them all before the end of the case. Otherwise, we have thrown dirt in the eyes of the God of Surgery – Hua. So you never disturb The Hua. So, in fact, if we’ve ever not managed to start the closing playlist on time, we have to stay in the OR at least for a few of the songs otherwise we have ruined our chances for a pleasant weekend,” he adds with a slight smirk.
From Kool and the Gang “Celebration” to Neil Young’s “Horse with No Name”
Brooke Seckel, MD, a board certified plastic surgeon out of Boston, said he actually had a close encounter with one of his favorite operating room musicians. “I love Neil Young,” Dr. Seckel tells The Plastic Surgery Channel. “His daughter actually went to school with my daughter, and I got a chance to see him at graduation. And I went up to him and told him I’ve done more facelifts while Harvest Moon was playing in the OR than you can image.”
Tiffany McCormack, MD, a board certified plastic surgeon in Reno, likes it all. “Hip hop. 80s. Top 40. Country. Rock. Early 90s,” she says. “There’s only one thing bad we don’t listen to: jazz.”
How About Silence?
Not every surgeon or surgical team likes music in the office while they are working. Take board certified plastic surgeon Paul Watterson, MD, for example. He’s not completely opposed to music in the OR, but ….
“It has to be the right music,” Dr. Watterson says. “There have been studies that have shown you can be more efficient if there’s music. It is a wonderful thing. But, it can get annoying. And it can be obtrusive. So it’s the right kind of music that lends itself to certain types of procedures. So if I’m in a very intense part of a procedure, I’ll turn the music off. And suddenly that lets everybody know it’s time to be quiet.”
“I like to have my music loud and the operating room cold.”
That sums up how James Namnoum, MD, a board certified plastic surgeon in Atlanta, enjoys his days in surgery. “That way, I’m happy and I can do my work.”