Flying after abdominal surgery

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When the organs in your abdomen aren't working properly, it can cause discomfort at best and nearly unbearable pain at worst. Abdominal surgery is a treatment option that can alleviate your symptoms and return you to a pain-free lifestyle.

The key points to remember if you have to fly after abdominal surgery:

Your vacation has already been planned, and your abdominal surgery is scheduled for the week before you leave. Should you go ahead with the surgery or postpone it because of your upcoming flight? It is best to avoid flying for 4 to 10 days after abdominal surgery, according to the FAA. It is critical to adhere to airline waiting times and avoid flying until the most common risks, such as bleeding and infections, hypoxia, and blood clotting complications, have been eliminated. Consider using an air ambulance to reduce your risks if you need to travel long distances immediately after surgery.

What exactly is abdominal surgery, and when is it required?

Abdominal surgery is a catch-all term for surgical procedures performed on different abdominal organs, namely the stomach, small intestines, spleen, appendix, and colon (or rectum). It may be required to treat infections, tumors, or bowel disease. The following are some of the different types of abdominal surgeries and their purposes:

  • Herniorrhaphy: to correct hernia.
  • Appendectomy: to remove the appendix.
  • Cholecystectomy: to remove the gallbladder.
  • Colon/anorectal surgery: to treat rectal issues like hemorrhoids.
  • Cesarean Section: performed on pregnant women for childbirth purposes.
  • Small bowel resection: to remove part of all of the small intestine because it is blocked or diseased.
  • Colon/large bowel resections: to remove part or all of the large intestine because of colon cancer, polyps, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, blockages or gastrointestinal bleeding.

patient after surgery

What are the possible complications of abdominal surgery?

Abdominal surgery, like any other surgical procedure, has the potential for complications, such as bleeding or infection. Other potential issues include:

  • Pain
  • Bloating
  • Shock
  • Swelling around the incision
  • Nausea
  • Damage to an organ or blood vessel
  • Blood clots
  • Temporary paralysis of the bowel

How long can you fly after abdominal surgery?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends a 4 to 5-day wait after simple abdominal surgery and a 10-day wait after complex abdominal surgery. As a rough guideline, the following wait period can be taken into consideration:

  • Colonoscopy: next day
  • Appendectomy: 5 to 7 days
  • Cholecystectomy: 5 to 10 days
  • Laparoscopic/keyhole surgery: 1 to 2 days
  • Colonoscopy with a polypectomy: at least 24 hours

In all situations, the patient's overall health should be considered – they should have recovered from the surgery in good health with no signs of complications. Patients should be able to eat and drink normally, have a normal temperature, normal hemoglobin levels, and the surgical wound should be completely healed before flying. They should also be able to fly on their own without any assistance and the pain from the surgery should be manageable.

Is flying safe after abdominal surgery?

When flying too soon after abdominal surgery, bleeding and infections around the surgical wound are the most common issues. In the worst-case scenario, the patient may develop a high fever during the long flight, and their overall health could deteriorate to a dangerous level as a result of an infection. There is also a chance that the surgical area will bleed, which could result in circulatory shock.

Following surgery, post-operative patients have increased oxygen consumption. Concurrently, patients' oxygen levels may be reduced further if they are elderly, dehydrated, anemic, or have cardiopulmonary disease. Such patients should postpone air travel for several days, as lower oxygen and humidity levels in a pressurized cabin could induce hypoxia.

Furthermore, intestinal gas expands by approximately 30% in volume at high altitudes and as a result of atmospheric pressure changes. This phenomenon puts post-abdominal surgery patients at risk of tearing suture lines or, in severe cases, perforation and hemorrhage.

passengers in plane

Finally, patients who plan to fly for more than 6-8 hours should take the necessary precautions to avoid blood-clotting complications such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. DVT is a type of blood clot that develops in the leg or thigh as a result of stagnant blood flow, vein wall damage (both caused by prolonged immobilization), and coagulation (normal body response after surgery). DVT can cause leg swelling and pain. Clots can also travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism, which can result in sudden cardiac arrest.

Air ambulances for post-abdominal surgery patients

Abdominal surgery frequently causes pain and puts patients at risk of serious complications, particularly on long-distance flights. Normalizing blood flow, mitigating complications, and avoiding future issues should be included in post-operative in-flight care, which is unavailable on regular flights.

Our air ambulances are equipped with cutting-edge medical technology, allowing even intensive care unit patients to travel long distances, such as from one country to another. Furthermore, all of our air ambulance flights include experienced and qualified air ambulance staff. ensuring that the patient is under the constant medical supervision of a professional who can intervene if a complication arises.

Our medical teams have dealt with post-operative patients who are in pain and at risk of infection or blood clots in the past, and they are capable of handling such medical emergencies quickly. If hypotension or arrhythmia complications arise, our medical team can manage them with the goal of achieving rapid recovery.

Benefits of our air ambulances

The benefits of our air ambulance charter are numerous and include:

  • Assisting with hospital admissions, ground transportation, and verifying fit-to-fly status.
  • A highly skilled medical crew composed of critical care flight paramedics, nurses, and doctors.
  • A mission response center that is accessible 24/7, with access to medical specialists and consultation physicians.
  • Modern medical jets with medium to long-range capabilities, as well as mission-critical equipment such as stretchers, monitors, ventilators, and medications.
  • Comprehensive air ambulance services from South America or Europe to Alabama, Ohio, Florida, or any other state in the US with no hidden fees.

Why is a medical escort necessary when flying after abdominal surgery?

Flying with a medical escort after surgery ensures your safety on commercial flights. We can also arrange for a commercial stretcher flight if you are bed-bound or are unable to remain seated for an extended period of time. Our doctors have a lot of experience treating people on long-haul commercial flights. They will assist you with any medical needs you may have while traveling, and if your condition requires it, they can bring additional medications and medical equipment.

medical escort

By using our bed-to-bed service, we can also assist our patients on their way to and from the airport, allowing us to provide the best post-operative care possible. On the day of the flight, a ground ambulance will pick you up from your home or hospital, and vice versa upon arrival. You will be accompanied by a professional at all times, ensuring your safety and eliminating the hassles of finding ground transportation and coordinating travel.

Contact us for a free quote now!

Are you looking for an air ambulance service to arrange long-distance patient transportation? Please get in touch with our multilingual team so we can advise you on the best mode of transportation for your needs. Our helpful experts will respond as soon as possible to provide you with a free, non-binding quick estimate for your trip.


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