Surgery is accepted as one of the most demanding professions that create both physical and mental strain on the performers. Therefore, the authors aimed to elucidate the mental burden of surgeons, which is dedicated to operative stress. They also tested the hypotheses that participating in surgery creates mental stress on surgeons that leads to cardiovascular changes, and that this stress is more pronounced for actual operators than for first assistants. The method chosen for this purpose was an analysis of heart rate variability. Twelve surgeons (five plastic surgery staff and seven plastic surgery residents) were monitored by a digital ambulatory Holter recorder on at least two occasions. Half of the recordings were carried out on operating days and the other half on office days. Heart rate variability indices (low frequency, high frequency, high frequency/low frequency ratio, and heart rate) were analyzed from those recordings using computerized research tool software. The heart rate variability indices of the operators showed statistically significant differences between operating days and office hours in favor of an increased sympathetic and decreased parasympathetic activity for the former. For first assistants, three of the parameters, with the exception of heart rate, changed in favor of a sympathetic predominance over parasympathetic activity; these changes were also statistically significant. These results showed a sympathetic hyperactivity for both operators and first assistants during the operations. When the sympathovagal balance of the actual operators was compared with that of assistants, the former group showed a more pronounced sympathetic arousal. This difference is accepted as a proof for the mental stress of the surgery being the main factor responsible for the sympathetic hyperactivity that we detected during the operations.