Surgery Anxiety and Fear

Most people feel some degree of hesitation or uncertainty going into surgery. This is par for the course. When the feelings go beyond simply being a little nervous about the surgery, though, it can lead to surgical anxiety.
Did you know there is an official term for surgical anxiety? The medical word for this anxiety of going under the knife is tomophobia, which translates to “fear of surgery.”


Different patients fear different things related to surgery. The more you know about where your fears stem from, the better you can prepare for them and plan ahead to help relieve those fears and concerns. Your surgical anxiety fears may stem from your worry over:

  1. Death.
  2. Pain.
  3. Financial burdens.
  4. Surgical result.
  5. Secondary infections or illnesses.
  6. Surgical mistakes.
  7. Post-surgery scars.
  8. Adverse lifestyle impact.
  9. Post-surgical pain.
  10. Losing mobility or independence.
  11. Disfigurement.
  12. Lowered self-esteem.
  13. Long recovery.
  14. Being unable to wake afterward.
  15. Being awake during surgery.


Once you understand the types of fear and anxiety you’re feeling, you are better able to address your fears in a more constructive way.


Fear of surgery represents a common phobia for people to experience, as we discussed above. The link between anxiety and surgery for some people can be almost overwhelming. It’s a logical fear, and that’s part of why it’s so powerful as far as fears go.

Surgeries, after all, are no small things. Whether you’re afraid of your surgery resulting in medical mistakes that may impact the rest of your life or if your anxiety stems from fear of pain concerns related to your surgery, surgery becomes a big deal for many people.

The good news is surgical anxiety is temporary. You can take practical steps to lessen your fear of surgery.

Last, but certainly not least, accept the fact that anxiety about your surgery is normal. Every day people have surgeries, and every day they have anxiety and fear of these surgeries.

Know, however, that you cannot simply decide to put fear away and move on. Fear of surgery, while a common fear, can lead to undue stress and anxiety. That’s why you should take advantage of the many resources available and things you can do that will help you cope with your fears of surgery. In some cases, they can help you overcome those fears.

Now it is up to you to take the first steps to relieve your pre-surgery anxiety and fears so you can have a successful surgery and retake control of your health and quality of life. Keep your thoughts focused on the positive outcome waiting for you after surgery and recovery, and try one or more of the methods mentioned above to put your fears, concerns, and anxiety into perspective.

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