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Travel after surgery

Travel after surgery
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Is it safe to fly after a health procedure?

As day surgery becomes more usual and hospital stays decrease in length, the question of when it’s safe to fly after an operation comes up more often.

Air travel is stressful in itself, and there are various environmental changes that can affect a person recovering from a surgical procedure.

Which surgical patients are most at risk from flying?

The best place to get advice on when it’s safe to fly after surgery is from the healthcare team looking after you. It’s really important to talk over your travel plans with them so you can get good advice to protect your health and keep you safe. Post-operative patients need more oxygen than usual, so the slightly reduced pressure of an aircraft cabin may cause them discomfort or serious harm during the flight.

Another issue particularly affects people who have had abdominal surgery. Gas introduced to the body as part of a laparoscopic procedure or a colonoscopy may expand by 30% during air travel, and if you’ve recently had a procedure, this can put you at risk of tearing stitches or bleeding.

Some eye ops will affect your intra-ocular pressure, and spending time in a relatively low-pressure environment like an aircraft cabin may set back your recovery.

For these reasons many surgical patients are advised to avoid flying for a certain period of time. This varies depending on the procedure, and it’s important to get expert advice when making travel plans after surgery.

Ask your travel insurer about post-surgery flights

Traveling after a surgical procedure may have an impact on your travel insurance. So discuss your plans with your insurer to make sure you have the right policy for your trip.

Is it safe to get travel vaccines after surgery?

Some experts recommend not getting vaccinated before or immediately after surgery. This is because some shots leave some people with malaise and a fever. These can be mistaken for post-surgery symptoms and may cause unnecessary alarm, or mask a serious complication.

At your travel health appointment, tell the pharmacist if you’ve got an operation booked and they can help you make a vaccination schedule that works for you. Let the healthcare team that is supporting you through your surgery know about your travel plans and your travel health needs so they can help you make decisions.

Should I get vaccinated if I’m going abroad for surgery?

Medical tourists should be aware that not all countries adhere to the same healthcare standards as the US, and re-used medical equipment can transmit diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B. Also, blood screening procedures vary around the world and if you need donor blood during your treatment, you may be at increased risk of contracting a blood-borne disease.

Of primary concern to health tourists are HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. We can offer vaccination against hepatitis B. At your travel health appointment, let the nurse know that you will be traveling for a surgical procedure.

Anyone planning medical tourism should check the Centers for Disease Control’s advice on traveling to another country for medical care.

When should I get a travel health appointment if I’m going on vacation to recover from surgery?

We would recommend every traveler makes an appointment with us six to eight weeks before departure. But many travel shots provide protection that lasts for years, so even if your trip is a long way in the future, consider scheduling your travel vaccinations well in advance. It’s quick and easy to book a travel health appointment with our online booking system.

Every individual is different, and we would not be able to give advice that is right for everyone about when it is safe to fly after surgery. So if you’ve got a surgical procedure appointment on the calendar, talk to your healthcare team about when it’s safe to fly, and factor this into your travel plans.