How Long Do Grey's Anatomy's Big Surgery Scenes Take To Film? Jaicy Elliot Shares Details

Jaicy Elliot on Grey's Anatomy.
(Image credit: ABC)

There’s no denying that the drama surrounding the Grey Sloan Memorial doctors’ personal lives is a huge part of what keeps Grey’s Anatomy so entertaining, even in the midst of its 19th season. The relationships have always seemingly been just as important as anything happening in the operating room, but sometimes the surgeons have to get to work. Longtime viewers have watched some amazing medical miracles happen over the course of the series, and when it comes to those big surgical scenes, a lot goes into making them look as authentic as possible. Grey’s Anatomy actress Jaicy Elliot recently gave some insight into just how long that process can take.

Jaicy Elliot, who has played Taryn Helm since Season 14, spoke with Hello! magazine about the effort that goes into keeping those surgeries looking realistic to the fans watching at home. It’s apparently not a fast process, either, as she revealed: 

A good piece of trivia is that any time you have a surgical montage it can take up to two days to shoot and it's really just thirty seconds. It's a lot of work and in those moments you are reminded of what it takes to create a moment. Whenever you see a montage think of us because it does take a lot of time and precision to get those right.

I mean, dang. That really does put everybody’s hard work into perspective. Those 30-second montages often do a lot in service of the plot — be it the surgeon’s story or that of the patient — but it’s hard to imagine the actors putting in two days of filming for moments that come and go so quickly onscreen.

Jaicy Elliot praised the team that works with the cast to ensure that they look like they know what they’re doing when it’s time to grab the scalpel. She said:

We have a fantastic team of doctors who work on the show who help us sort of work out the kinks of what surgery has to look like to be somewhat realistic because of course we're in a dramatic heightened version of reality, so we get a lot of help and a lot of assistance.

The actress, who’s also joined the Hallmark team for a couple of movies, has not been in the operating room yet in Season 19. Her character lost her job in the Season 18 finale, when Grey Sloan Memorial’s residency program was shut down. Rather than return to the hospital with her buddy Levi Schmitt (Jake Borelli) to welcome in the new class of interns, Helm has taken to pouring drinks at Joe’s Bar. 

As Ellen Pompeo prepares to exit the series, Grey’s Anatomy has kind of hit the reset button for Season 19, bringing in a handful of new cast members for viewers to watch rise through the ranks. It makes me wonder if getting through those surgery scenes is a bit of a rite of passage for the newbies. 

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if or when Taryn Helm will rejoin the team, so we’ll have to tune in when the show returns at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, February 23, on ABC. In the meantime, the first 18 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy can be streamed with a Netflix subscription, while the first part of Season 19 is available to watch via Hulu subscription

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.