Many patients do not know how soon after plastic surgery they can safely travel and fly in an airplane. Because plastic surgery causes trauma to the body, it can be dangerous to get on a plane and endure the extreme altitude shift and forces that are associated with takeoff and landing. In some cases, flying could increase the risk of complications, and be quite uncomfortable for the patient.
Besides the altitude and the forces of the engine, airplanes are notorious for being harbors of viruses and bacteria. After surgery, immune system response may be lowered, and the likelihood of infection is increased, especially on a flight, no matter how long or short it is. Most surgeons would recommend that the patient stay grounded until the healing process is complete.
For up to a week after the surgery, patient should not fly. This can be difficult for patients who have decided to travel long distances to undergo surgery. Patients who travel to undergo plastic surgery should expect to spend a week recovering from surgery before flying again. After a week, with the right compression garments, on a short flight, the patient should be fine, though most surgeons would still prefer that the patient take it easy at this time.
After a week, most surgeons will allow their patients to fly. However, the risk of blood clots is increased after surgery and when flying. If the patient is at risk of developing blood clots, he or she may have to wait longer to fly. Patients that are approved to fly should get up and walk around the plane when it is allowed.
During this time, it is still important not to be hefting heavy bags, running through the airport, or drinking alcohol. In general, most doctors would recommend that their patients wait a full month before resuming plane travel.
Possible Side Effects
Possible side effects of traveling include infection, deep vein thrombosis, blood clots, elevated blood pressure, and irritation of the wound site. Because flying on a plane is uncomfortable, there is always the concern that the wound site may be affected, especially in surgeries like breast augmentation and abdominoplasty. The rise in blood pressure is the most common side effect, and can also be a dangerous one, though the possibility of picking up a cold or other sickness while the immune system is depressed is definitely something to be concerned about and to safeguard against.
The biggest danger in flying is the risk of blood clots and thrombosis. Both of these are related both to the trauma the patient’s body has just endured, and the change in altitude. In order to mitigate these dangers, most doctors will recommend only taking a short flight and getting up to walk around as much as possible during the flight. The patient may want to alert the flight attendant to their concerns so that they are provided with a steady stream of fluids.
To schedule a plastic surgery consultation, contact the practice of Dr. Mark Deuber.