After the operation, mind-bender Alex Lenkei said that he could hear the cracking of bones as the surgeon sawed at his hand but felt nothing. He might be the first person in the world to perform the feat.
The 61-year-old hypnotist showed off his bandaged and swollen hand, fresh from the 83-minute surgery he underwent on Wednesday at Worthing Hospital, West Sussex, reports the Daily Mail.
Lenkei, a father-of-one from Worthing, told how he could hear his surgeon talking as he slit a four-inch cut in his right wrist to chisel out a walnut-sized chunk of bone and move a tendon.
He said: "It took me about 30 seconds to put myself under and I wasn't aware of any part of my body apart from my arm.
"I could feel the surgeon pulling and manipulating me - then I heard the cracking of bones.
"I heard him say, 'can I have the saw please?', and imagined him holding this great big thing in his hand. But fortunately he then said' 'I think we'll use the smaller one.'
"He used a hammer and chisel at one stage and I could hear him hammering away at the bone.
"I heard everything he was saying to his assistants and anaethetist, but there was no gossip. It was a shame - I was hoping to hear something juicy." Lenkei, a registered hypnotist who has been practising since he was 16, is recovering with his wife at his home after having the operation to treat painful osteoarthritis.
Anaesthetist Richard Venn was on hand in case of any problems, but surgeon David Llewellyn-Clark was astonished to find that his patient showed no reaction to his work - even with a tight tourniquet around his upper arm.
He said: "If he had been grinning and bearing it we would have known - but his heart rate and breathing remained constant throughout.
"I wasn't aware he could hear us but halfway through he asked how things were going."
Lenkei added: "I would have certainly told them if I was in pain - I told them to zap me straight away if I cried out."
The surgeon said he hoped hypnotism of patients could reduce fears about coming in for surgery, as well as lessen the amount of anaesthetic used to prevent patients becoming ill afterwards.
He said: "Some people are very anxious about being given an anaesthetic so I am always looking to find alternatives. I was confident that Mr Lenkei is a skilled hypnotist and I am delighted all went well."
He added that the less anaesthetic was used, the quicker the healing process.
Venn said Wednesday's operation would normally be carried out under general anaesthetic or a strong local anaesthetic to the arm.
Studies suggest that not using standard anaesthetics can speed recovery and reduce time spent in hospital.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Irish surgeon Jack Gibson performed more than 4,000 procedures under hypnosis, including plastic surgery and amputations.
But associations with stage hypnotism have kept the practice at the margins of medicine.
Lenkei was hypnotised by another hypnotist when he had a hernia operation in 1996, and once hypnotised his son, also called Alex, to reduce the pain when he broke his arm aged seven.
He said: "I hope the NHS in the South start taking this seriously now. Lots of people come to Worthing to retire and it's vital they get the services and care they need."