Travelling after surgery can be risky. Air travel after surgery can be particularly dangerous, if you do not follow proper post-operative care protocols, as recommended by your doctor. In fact, your doctor is likely to advise you not to travel after surgery unless absolutely necessary. So, you might be wondering ‘when can I fly after surgery’ or ‘is it safe for me to travel by road/or by other means instead?’
Here are some tips to help you travel safely after surgery.
If you are using a car to travel after your surgery – be it from the hospital to your home or a longer distance, you must always have someone else driving the vehicle. It is also advisable to take frequent breaks, to move your body, when traveling on the road, over a longer distance.
If your surgery has been on the upper part of the body, you may not have much difficulty in sitting, when traveling on the road. But if you have had surgery on the lower body or any other extensive procedure, it is better to travel by train or to take a flight back home.
If you are traveling by train, it is again better to have someone accompany you. Keep moving your limbs every now and then.
Most people may take a flight if they need to travel to another city or country. Air travel after surgery may pose some challenges. If you prefer air travel after surgery, ensure that you make arrangements for someone to accompany you. If you can’t have someone be there with you during your travels, make sure to call ahead and arrange for a wheelchair or other assistance, from your airline.
Recommended Read: All You Need to Know about Medical Tourism
A note about risks of blood clots during air travel after surgery
One of the risks of traveling after surgery is the possibility of new clot formation in the blood. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a risk after surgeries. DVT is when a clot in the blood is formed in the vein. It then enlarges and travels to the heart or the brain. Clots in the brain or heart, can result in strokes or even a heart attack. The clot can also travel to your lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. The blood clotting mechanism of the body goes into overdrive, after surgery, to minimize bleeding risks, in the post-operative period. For this reason, it is recommended to keep moving the body when traveling after a surgery.
The chances of DVT are greater during air travel after surgery as the levels of humidity can decrease inside a flight and may not be optimal for someone who has just had a surgery. During air travels, you may also consume insufficient fluids and move minimally; increasing your risk of DVT.
So, always ensure that you move up and down the aisle every hour, when traveling on a flight, after your surgery. Keep drinking water every 30 minutes or so.
Ensure that you do not lift any luggage – whether it is to stow it away in the overhead cabin or inside the airport. Ask for assistance, for managing your luggage from the airline or the airport staff, if you are traveling alone after the surgery.
Inside the flight, try to book a seat by the exit for more legroom. An aisle seat will also be comfortable for you to move around easily.
General Travel Tips
Always follow the doctor’s recommendations about traveling after your surgery. Air travel after surgery can become problematic if you do it against the advice of your doctor.
Keep your medicines with you and continue to eat healthy meals during the journey. Wear comfortable clothes. Also, keep the doctor’s number handy with you in case of emergencies.
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