After undergoing surgery, some find they must take a flight not long after. For those who want to fly commercial after surgery, it is important to ensure enough time has passed and that you have regained some mobility, taken steps to prevent blood clots and practice good hygiene throughout the trip.

In many cases, you may simply have to wait. Doctors will insist that patients do not fly for a set amount of time after surgery. And there is nothing you will read here or anywhere else that supersedes the advice given to you directly by your doctor. It is important that you consult with your doctor about how to fly commercial before and after surgery. 

That said, there are some tips to keep in mind that can make flying commercial after surgery safer and easier.

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Ensure Enough Time Has Passed

Make sure enough time has passed since your surgery. Different procedures have different time windows before it is safe to fly and having someone who is knowledgeable & trained in aviation physiology is critical. Make sure you stay within whatever time parameters they set.

A general guide to how long you should wait after surgery before flying includes the following time frames.

  • Simple cataract or corneal laser surgery – one day
  • A Colonoscopy – one day
  • Simple abdominal surgery – four to five days
  • Complicated eye surgery – a week
  • Chest surgery or a coronary artery bypass graft – 10 days
  • Complicated abdominal surgery – 10 days

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Mobility Is Important

You want to fly commercial after surgery when you have reached a point where you are relatively mobile. That is important because movement can prevent the formation of blood clots. When someone is immobile during a long flight, it prevents the contraction of muscles in the legs that allows blood to circulate back to the heart. When you cannot move, blood pools in the legs and the risk of clotting increases.

Take Aspirin

This is something to do only if told so by your doctor. Taking aspirin can help prevent the formation of blood clots during a flight. It is possible the doctor may prescribe a more powerful anticoagulant, but those should be taken only under a doctor’s orders.

Avoid Turbulence, Nausea

Although it is certainly no guarantee, morning flights tend to have smoother air to fly through than flights later in the day. So, if you can, book an early flight to reduce the odds of nausea-inducing turbulence that you might feel more susceptible to post-operation. Also, a seat on the plane over or near the wing can be smoother – you give up a view for less turbulence.

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Practice Good Hygiene

A lot of people have wondered if flying commercial will ever be the same after the coronavirus. The ideas that everyone has adopted during the COVID-19 epidemic – washing hands, using hand sanitizers on the plane, taking on disinfectant wipes to clear often-touched places in the seat area – are good habits for those who choose to fly commercial after surgery. Post-surgery fliers may be more susceptible to infections, so it is important to practice these good habits.

Keep these tips in mind but remember that your doctor is the final authority on when you can fly commercial before and after surgery. The last thing you want to do is become ill again or risk an infection so soon after getting a surgery to correct a health issue.

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