What Is Virtual Surgery and How Does This Benefit Patients?

If you’re preparing for surgery of any kind, or if a loved one will be operated on, chances are good you’re nervous – maybe even terrified. And the anxiety keeps building from the time you schedule the surgery until the moment the anesthetic starts to take effect. The anxiety stems from uncertainty. Things could go wrong, you may not have a clue as to how the procedure is performed, and you have no idea what is going on inside your body before, during and after surgery.

The Importance Of Being Positive and Calm

The patient’s mental and emotional state of being needs to be as calm and positive as possible before and after the surgery. Many people prefer not to know what happens in their body because they are squeamish about it, but ultimately, knowledge of what to expect can have a powerful calming effect – especially if the patient feels a sense of control.

Technology has come to the rescue! If you want to know what the surgery is going to be like, try virtual surgery!

What Is It?

Virtual surgery is a virtual reality simulation of any number of surgical procedures including laser hair removal, open heart surgery, root canals, gastric bypass, tonsillectomies, knee surgery, c-sections and more – even tattoo removal! You can find a number of sites that have great interactive virtual surgery “games” where you take the part of the surgeon and perform the procedure. Of course you’re guided through it the entire way!

Become Your Own Surgeon Temporarily

The beauty of virtual surgery is that the patient becomes the surgeon and assumes control of the situation. In some games, the procedure begins with an explanation of the procedure, important safety guidelines and familiarization with the people involved and their duties. This empowering feeling can carry over to the actual physical procedure. The patient will be informed, and much more relaxed about the whole thing.

With all the virtual surgery sites available to choose from, which ones are the best?

Well, it depends in part:

  • on your knowledge of anatomy
  • whether you’re squeamish, and
  • whether you prefer to experience the surgery as cartoon representations, or
  • more realistic virtual body parts

Most sites are geared to the public; a few to the medical profession.

On the interactive “virtual surgery games” sites, procedures are simplified for the general public and generally don’t show blood.

My only complaint is the oversimplification of some procedures, which may make the user believe that surgery is a piece of cake.


There are many intricate systems at work in the body, and virtual surgery can’t possibly replicate them all (at least not with today’s technology). That said, these games are very entertaining and educational at the same time.

Be Prepared

Being educated about what’s going on in your surgery or the surgery that a loved one will undergo, will put your mind at ease. It will give you enough information to talk to the surgeon and understand the terminology during pre-op consultations, and educated post-op conversations.

Understanding the magnitude of the trauma that any surgery imposes on the body is important for healing, too.

Many people try to do too much, too soon (that’s easy to do, when the pain mediation has kicked in!). Some surgeons suggest that their surgery patients should be encouraged to play virtual surgery games so that they understand how much trauma occurs and how much healing the body has to undergo after surgery, in hopes of preventing post-operative problems and speed healing.

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