By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor
Alex Lenkei is not the first patient to reject an anaesthetic in favour of hypnosis before undergoing surgery – but he may be the first to have hypnotised himself.
At Worthing Hospital, Sussex, the 61-year-old registered hypnotist sedated himself with techniques he has used since the age of 16. The surgery, carried out last Wednesday, involved taking a sliver of bone from the base of his right thumb and fusing the joint in a bid to improve his arthritis.
Yesterday Mr Lenkei said: "It went amazingly well. It took between 30 seconds to a minute for me to place myself under hypnosis and I felt a very deep relaxation. At one stage a hammer and chisel was used as well as a surgical saw, but I felt no pain. I was aware of everything."
His surgeon, David Llew-ellyn-Clark, said he was happy with the result. "Some people are very anxious about anaesthetic so I am always looking for alternatives. I was confident Mr Lenkei is a skilled hypnotist and I am delighted."
Studies suggest that not using standard anaesthetics can speed recovery and cut time spent in hospital.