All over the world, you will find surgeons listening to music as they operate. Some studies say this can help them relax and reduce stress. However, until now, there was no evidence to suggest it may also help them close their incisions more effectively.

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The researchers found surgeons stitch their incisions faster and better when they listen to their preferred music.

In the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, two researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston describe how they invited 15 plastic surgeons to close incisions on pigs' feet and found when they did this while listening to their preferred music, their stitches were better and faster.

The researchers used pigs' feet - which they procured at a local food market - because they are widely accepted as similar to human skin when it comes to practicing wound closure.

The surgeons were invited to carry out two identical "wound repairs" on pigs' feet, using layered stitches, on 2 consecutive days.

The participants were not told the purpose of the study. They were simply asked to perform at their best and tell the researchers when they had finished. They did not know the researchers were comparing times and grading the results until after the study.

Wound closures were faster

During the wound repairs, music was either turned on or turned off. If it was turned on in the first one, then it was turned off in the second one, and vice versa.

The researchers realized a factor they needed to consider was that the surgeons could improve on the second repair, simply as a result of repetition. This is why they randomly assigned them to have music first or not have music first.

When they compared the results, the researchers found the average completion time of a repair for all the surgeons was 7% less when their preferred music was playing, and 10% less for more experienced surgeons.

First author Dr. Shelby Lies, chief plastic surgery resident at UTMB, comments:

"Spending less time in the operating room can translate into significant cost reductions, particularly when incision closure is a large portion of the procedure, such as in a tummy tuck."

He notes that reducing wound repair time is also better for the patient, as longer time spent under general anesthesia is linked to higher risk of complications.

Better quality wound closures

The researchers also compared the quality of the work, and results showed that repair quality improved overall when surgeons carried out wound closures while listening to their preferred music. This was not dependent on whether music was playing during the first or the second procedure.

The quality of the wound repairs was assessed by other plastic surgeons, who did not know whose work they were looking at or what the conditions of the study were.

Co-author Andrew Zhang, assistant professor of surgery in the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery at UTMB, concludes:

"Our study confirmed that listening to the surgeon's preferred music improves efficiency and quality of wound closure, which may translate to health care cost savings and better patient outcomes."

Meanwhile, another study that Medical News Today recently learned about shows how an elastic hydrogel may help repair wounds.

In the journal Advanced Functional Materials, bioengineers describe how they developed a protein-based gel that, when exposed to light, mimics many of the features of elastic tissue like skin and blood vessels.