Every surgical procedure, no matter how major or minor, involves some recovery time for your body. During your healing period, it’s important that you don’t put your body through any extra hardship that may impact your successful recovery.
Flying after gynaecological surgery should be avoided from anywhere between 24 hours and 3 months depending on the type of surgery performed. Northside Gynaecology has provided the information on this page as a rough guide to when you can fly after surgery.
Depending on the type of surgery you’ve had, you may require painkillers and other medications during your recovery process.
Check what rules apply when taking your medicine:
- On board the plane – some airlines have restrictions on the amount of medications allowed in the cabin.
- Into the country you’re travelling to – some countries have different regulations about the types and quantities of medications allowed into the country. Some over-the-counter medicines in Australia are controlled in other countries and require a prescription or doctor’s note for you to carry them. Check with the Embassy of the country you are visiting to avoid potentially having your medication confiscated at Customs.
It’s a good idea to travel with a copy of your prescription and a letter from your gynaecologist detailing:
- The details of your medication including its generic name.
- The health condition you require the medication for.
Oxygen level issues
If you’ve had gas used during a procedure (such as laparoscopy), it’s important to avoid flying until all residual gas is gone from your abdominal cavity.
Most intestinal gas will expand by volume approximately 30% in a pressurised cabin, putting you at risk of torn suture lines, internal bleeding, or even perforation.
Risk of DVT
Air travel puts you at an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in your legs. These blood clots can be fatal if they travel up to the heart, lungs or brain.
People with a family history of blood clots, are overweight, or have had DVT before are at greater risk of developing the condition. Talk to your gynaecologist about your risk of DVT before flying.
Follow up requirements:
Most women are asked to make a follow up appointment two to six weeks after surgery to assess their progress. These consultations are important to address any infection or other issue that has arisen following your procedure. Make sure you will be in the country and able to see your gynaecologist.
General advice – before you fly
- Pack well in advance
- Get plenty of sleep and rest before your flight
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing on the plane
- Check hand luggage restrictions with your airline
- Plan your route to the airport well in advance
- Take plenty of distraction devices for any children travelling with you
- Make sure you pack your medications for the flight
During your flight
Drink plenty of fluid to stay hydrated throughout the flight. Water is best (tea and coffee will make you thirstier). Do not drink alcohol as this dehydrates you and may interfere with any medication you are taking.
Wear glasses instead of contact lenses, because the dry air in the cabin will irritate your eyes if you have lenses in.
Avoid ear trouble caused by changes in air pressure as the plane takes off and lands by sucking a lolly or chewing gum during these times. If you have an ear, nose, or sinus infection, it is not advisable to fly – the swelling can cause pain, bleeding or even a perforated eardrum.
Move around the cabin whenever possible to reduce your risk of developing DVT. Simple leg exercises (such as bending and straightening them) may help keep the blood flowing too. If you are at high risk of DVT, your gynaecologist may recommend you delay flying.
Recovery time will vary from woman to woman depending on a variety of factors, so it’s important to get the ‘all clear’ from your gynaecologist before flying.
To avoid disappointment, talk to your gynaecologist about your travel plans before your surgery.
Most airlines have policies in place that restrict people from flying after significant medical events. Check with your airline before booking your flight to make sure you will be permitted to board the plane.
Also, make sure you are able to provide any letters or medical certificates required confirming that you’re fit to fly.
Additional information for specific airlines and their medical clearance requirements can be found here:
|Air New Zealand|