It is slowly becoming common practice for patients to travel for their plastic surgery. Whether they travel dozens, hundreds, or thousands of miles, patients are leaving town to reach their ideal plastic surgeon. Traveling for surgery is different than traveling for pleasure; there are certain things you have to take into consideration and you need to be more cautious with your travel plans, especially if you’re planning to fly.
What Makes Flying a Risk After Surgery?
Travel by air is generally considered one of the safest methods of travel, but it can pose health risks even if you aren’t recovering from surgery. These risks are heightened during your recovery period, which is when you’re likely to be traveling.
Clotting is a particularly concerning risk for patients, especially if the clot is a deep vein thrombosis. A deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a clot that forms in the deeper veins. The clot can become quite large over time without being detected. Eventually, the clot can become large enough that smaller pieces break off and begin moving through the blood stream. If that piece gets stuck in your heart, you could have a heart attack. If it gets stuck in your brain, you could have a stroke. If it gets lodged in your lungs, you could have a pulmonary embolism. All these effects are potentially fatal, which is why a DVT is such a big deal.
Why Are Patients More Vulnerable to DVTs After Surgery?
Surgery is a controlled trauma to your body; that is, it is being deliberately injured to give you the best results after you recover. Any time your body is injured, the blood clotting mechanism goes to work. Your blood clots to prevent you from losing too much blood and to protect your body from things like infection. After surgery, that mechanism has to work overtime to help multiple parts of your body at once and allow you to heal properly. All that extra clotting power has the potential to create a DVT.
Why Does Flying Increase the Risk of DVTs?
DVTs tend to form when people are sitting in one position for long periods of time. On a plane, you’re doing exactly that, especially if the flight is long. There is limited space available for you to stretch and move around in order to keep your blood moving. Your access to fluids is also limited to what you bring with you and what you can get from the flight attendants. Fluids are important in keeping your blood flow steady. These factors can cause a blood clot to form, which could lead to a DVT.
You CAN Reduce Your Risk of DVTs
While DVTs are a very real threat to your health, there are ways that you can reduce your risk of acquiring one. First and foremost, you need to discuss your travel plans with your surgeon, including those you plan to undertake in the months after your surgery. They can advise you on the best travel methods and ways to keep you safe. They can also help you plan for your procedure accordingly. When you’re making your travel plans for surgery, plan a decent window of time after surgery to get yourself through the initial recovery. Travel is especially dangerous in the first few days following your procedure, plus you want to be close to your doctor during that time in case you experience any complications. It’s generally recommended that you plan to remain in town for at least a week of recovery.
When you do travel, and especially if you fly, choose accommodations that allow you the most maneuverability. Choose an exit row or economy plus seat to give yourself room to stretch. An aisle seat gives you access to the aisle so you can get up and move around during the flight. Before you get on the plane, try to be as active as you can, even if that just means standing instead of sitting. Being active gets your blood moving, which will help protect you during the flight. Pack an empty water bottle, fill it up before you get on the plane, and try to drink water throughout the flight. If you need more fluids, don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendant.
As an extra precaution, it’s also a really good idea to have someone accompany you on the flight. They can assist you with your bags, help you get around, and generally watch out for your well-being. Having someone on hand to get you help in the event of an emergency could save you a lot of trouble and even save your life.
Dr. Bustillo and Out-of-Town Patients
Dr. Andres Bustillo and the other members of his staff are well-practiced in assisting patients outside of the South Florida area. From making your travel arrangements to helping you find accommodations to getting you through your recovery, Dr. Bustillo makes your plastic surgery trip less stressful and more enjoyable. As a facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Bustillo offers a variety of surgical and nonsurgical procedures for the face, neck, and head. He is very dedicated to producing superior results for his patients and to keeping them safe throughout the entire surgical process.