Flying After Surgery

Your surgery will have a big long-term impact on your life, and most likely it will restore your mobility, and give you a better quality of life. But, for the short-term, there will be a few sacrifices, including the ability to drive, or travel by plane.

The biggest reason why you are recommended from refraining to fly, is that your surgeon would like to keep an eye on your progress, have you close by in case something goes wrong, and to make sure you don’t do anything that may negatively affect your recovery.

Immediately after your surgery, the pain and other restrictions might impact your ability to follow airline instructions in case of an emergency. Plus, you might struggle with the long queues, the tight confines of an aeroplane, turbulence, and other factors that aren’t ideal for a recovering patient.

Arthroscopic surgery is shortening recovery times, and, many patients are mobile within a couple of days, but in is important to always factor in any potential complications in your recovery time.

Before travelling by plane, it is important to notify your medical team and get the all clear.

A general guide to follow:

  • Avoid flying within 2 days following arthroscopic surgery.
  • Avoid flying within 2 weeks following open shoulder surgery, or fracture surgery.
  • Avoid flying for 6 months following total hip replacement surgery.

There are times when flying cannot be avoided, and it is best to consult with your surgical team to verify what restrictions are in place. You will also need to check if there are any restrictions set by the airline regarding flying after surgery, and what assistance may be required.

Other checks to make before flying:

  • Recent surgery may impact or nullify your travel insurance.
  • You may need a medical certificate to show what metal implants you have on your joints.
  • Your travel destination might have restrictions on what medications you are allowed.
  • You may not have access to certain medication, and need to plan for your travels.
  • If you have a cast fitted, there may be restrictions placed by the airlines on how soon you may fly.
  • If you are flying within days of the surgery, you will not be allowed to sit at the emergency exit, and if you require extra space, it will be at your own cost.
  • Most airlines can provide a wheelchair service free of charge.
  • Confirm with your medical team that you are not at risk of deep vein thrombosis, and if you are, try to avoid flying, or prepare adequately.

In general, it is safe to fly if you have the all clear from your medical team, you are covered by your insurance, and you are able to support yourself without pain or discomfort.