Traveling after surgery

Traveling after surgery

Safe Travel After Surgery

Hitting the road after surgery requires careful consideration and planning to ensure a comfortable and safe travel experience. You will need to reach specific healing milestones before considering travel, such as reduced pain, improved range of motion, and clearance from your healthcare team.

Communicate with your Surgeon

Discuss your travel plans with your care team early and often. Each patient heals differently, and each surgeon has different protocols, so it’s important that you follow clearance guidelines based on your individual recovery journey.

Postoperative checkups will help assess your recovery and determine your readiness for travel. In these appointments you can address any concerns or adjustments needed before embarking on a trip. Unless leaving town has been discussed with your surgeon prior to your procedure, it is advised to stay in town until after your first post-op visit.

Driving after Surgery

Driving restrictions can be difficult for many patients to accept, but we must ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. In general, you should not drive until you are able to be off any narcotic pain medications and are instructed to discontinue use of your brace or sling. You need to be able to react quickly when driving, and we don’t want you to hesitate because of pain and endanger others or put yourself in a position where you could be reinjured.

Flying after Surgery

If you do plan to travel by air in the post-operative period, consider purchasing travel insurance in case you aren’t feeling up to it, or your surgeon advises against traveling.

Travel insurance can provide coverage for unexpected medical expenses or trip cancellations due to health reasons.

If you have had a total joint replacement, there is a chance that the new metal implants could set off security monitors. You will not need a letter from your doctor, but you may want to give yourself extra time to go through security. Let the TSA agents know that you have metal hardware in your body. They may take you to a secondary area to be patted down and wanded.

Request assistance at airports and let the gate agent know about your recent procedure when you arrive so you can board early and have someone assist with your bags.

Wearing assistive devices like a brace or a sling may impact your ability to travel comfortably. Packing supportive pillows to maintain correct alignment and posture on your flight can help.

Consider what luggage you are taking. Can you manage it on your own? A good four-wheeled rolling suitcase will be easier than a bag that you must carry.

Always keep your medication with you in a carry-on bag in case of delayed or lost luggage.

Plan for a safe and successful trip. If you are cleared by your surgeon to travel, research the availability of medical facilities at your travel destination. Both you and your healthcare team will be much more comfortable if there is a plan in place in case of unexpected issues. When considering travel after surgery, remember to prioritize your health and comfort above all else. 

Safe Travels!