Driving After Laparoscopic Surgery

  • May 10, 2018
  • General Gynaecology

Driving After Laparoscopic Surgery

At Northside Gynaecology, we use minimally invasive single cut laparoscopic surgery when possible for many gynaecological procedures. Single cut laparoscopy offers reduced risk of complications, minimal pain and scarring, and faster recovery times than traditional open surgical methods.

The small incision involved in single cut laparoscopy means recovery time is quicker with better cosmetic outcomes. Depending on the type of procedure performed, most patients can return to their normal activities within 1-2 weeks after their laparoscopy.

Typically patients may return to driving 1-2 weeks after their procedure. However, there are a number of considerations that may affect your ability to get back behind the wheel. Please read this page in its entirety before considering driving after your single cut laparoscopy.

Can I drive?

  • You must have a valid driver’s license to drive in Australia.
  • You must be able to control your vehicle in an emergency situation if needed.
  • You must be able to testify your sound capacity to drive in a Court of Law.

Anaesthesia and driving

Most modern anaesthetics are short lasting; however you may still be affected from the after effects of your sedation for 24-48 hours after your laparoscopy. Especially during the first 24 hours after the procedure, you may feel slightly drowsy, and your judgement may be impaired.

Under NO circumstances should you drive yourself home after your procedure.

Deciding on returning to driving

Your decision to return to driving has a number of considerations:

  • Will the act of driving impair or hinder my healing process, or compromise the final outcome of my surgery?
  • Am I capable of driving safely and controlling my vehicle in the case of an emergency?
  • Is my judgement impaired in any way (i.e. am I taking pain medication that might interfere with my reaction time and ability to think clearly?)

Other considerations that may affect your ability to drive safely include:

  • What type of car you drive (manual / automatic / power steering)
  • The conditions you are driving in (bad weather / night time / poor road quality)
  • The length of your journey
  • Any pain or discomfort you are experiencing
  • Any range of function you may have temporarily lost

Returning to safe driving

A safe return to driving involves a number of factors including the type of procedure you’ve had, your level of rehabilitation, and your capacity to operate your car safely at all times.

Medications and driving

Certain medications may impact your ability to safely and legally drive by affecting your ability to concentrate, your judgement, and your reaction time. Do NOT drive while you are taking pain relief medication for your safety and for the safety of others on the road with you.

  • Pain relief tablets such as paracetamol or non-steroidal medications such as ibuprofen may be required for 5-7 days after your laparoscopy.
  • Codeine containing painkillers such as Nurofen Plus impact your ability to drive safely.

Car insurance considerations

Your car insurance provider may not cover you if you have had recent surgery, especially if you are taking regular pain medication. Each insurer has their own restrictions around driving after surgery, so speak with your provider about your policy before getting behind the wheel.

Before you drive

Before getting back behind the wheel, you should be:

  • Free from any sedative effects of any medication
  • Able to sit comfortably and work the vehicle’s controls
  • Able to wear the seatbelt with no discomfort or pain
  • Able to look over your shoulder to manoeuvre

Testing your capacity to drive

Before embarking on a drive, it is a good idea to practice sitting in the car without the keys in the ignition. See if you can achieve the range of motion needed for all regular driving functions including an emergency stop, a three-point turn, reverse parallel parking, and blind spot checks.

Before attempting to drive on public roads, take your car to an empty car park nearby and practice driving in a safe and controlled environment.

Once you can safely and repeatedly perform all necessary functions required for safe driving, you may consider returning to driving.

When you are ready to start driving again, start with a short journey and build up gradually to your regular driving duties.

Seeking further advice

Every person’s body is different, and your recovery time depends on your individual circumstances. Your post-operative recovery schedule will be discussed with you prior to your laparoscopy, and a follow-up appointment will be required after your procedure to assess your progress.

If you ever have any questions about your recovery, including when you can resume activities such as driving, get in touch with our Kedron, North Lakes, or Caboolture suites by clicking here or calling us on 07 3054 4687.

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