How Soon After Rhinoplasty is It Safe to Fly Home?

If I get a rhinoplasty out of town, how many days must I wait to fly home? Does it depend on the length of the flight? What kind of risks am I taking on if I fly earlier than that? Also, is it safe to recover alone in a hotel room? Or is it more safe to fly home where there is family nearby?

Doctor Answers 16

Flying after rhinoplasty surgery

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How soon after rhinoplasty a patient can fly will depend on a variety of factors including what was done during surgery, was there simultaneous septal, sinus or other internal nasal surgery, and the duration of surgery. In most cases, patients can fly 7-10 days following rhinoplasty surgery. At this point, the external nasal splint and internal nasal splint/packing will have been removed, most of the swelling outside of the nose has resolved within the first few days, and any oozing of blood following surgery has stopped within the first day or so. When flying, it is important to keep saline nasal spray in case the nasal passages feel dry or irritated, and decongestant nasal spray such as Afrin or Otrivin if the inner ear tubes are blocked due to pressure changes during flying. It is important to discuss the use of these nasal sprays with your surgeon as they may have a preference on how early you can use them.

With regards to the length of surgery and also the length of the flight, it is important to get up and walk frequently and also drink a lot of fluids to decrease the risk of a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot on the leg or thigh) and pulmonary embolism (blood clot dislodges and travels to the heart). Both of these are extremely rare complications after nasal surgery but serious.

If you are travelling to have surgery and don't know anyone who could stay with you after surgery, you may be able to hire a personal support worker (PSW) to stay with you a few days after surgery.

When planning your travel after surgery, it is important to discuss this with your surgeon as they will have recommendations regarding the timing and how long they require you to stay 'in town' following surgery. Your surgeon may also have a PSW service that they could recommend.

Flying after rhinoplasty

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For many years in practice, I have performed rhinoplasty in people who live at quite some distance from my office. Sometimes they fly home the next day and fly back to have their dressing remove from their nose. More often, they will wait until the dressing is removed from the nose (between 4 and 7 days after surgery) and then they will fly home. Flying, in and of itself should not cause any problems and I have not seen any associated problems or complications related to the flying.

I do not feel that anyone should recover alone on the night of surgery. Following
surgery and anesthesia, there must be someone with the patient able to provide
supportive care. Nursing care and medical care is not necessary. Someone, such as a family member or friend, who can give minimal care such as provide for food, perhaps help to the bathroom if necessary, act as reminder to take any medications and be generally supportive is all that is necessary. Whereas the patient should not be alone on the night of surgery, the location is arbitrary. The patient can be at someone’s home or in a hotel room, whichever is most convenient and comfortable. It is always helpful to have family or friends nearby.

Rhinoplasty recovery

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It is always better to stay in town after surgery until the early post-op period just in case there is a problem that needs to be addressed. If you do have to go home on an airplane shortly after surgery, you want to stay well hydrated to avoid clots in your legs.  In addition, you may want to take some Afrin before getting on the plane to help with nasal congestion.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Flying after a rhinoplasty

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Thank you for your question.

This is a question that you should ask your surgeon to find out their personal preference.  However, my preference is to ask my patients to wait to for 4 weeks following rhinoplasty surgery, before they fly in an aircraft or engage in vigorous exercise.  I often give my patients permission to do light exercise such as stretching yoga and treadmill at 2 weeks.

Cory Goldberg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Flying after rhinoplasty

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It is safe to fly home approximately 7-10 days after rhinoplasty when the cast is removed at the doctor’s office. It is important to stay close to where your surgeon is located, that way in the event you have post-operative complications he/she will be able to assist you.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 158 reviews

Rhinoplasty Recovery

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All of our patients from out of town, state, or country must have a friend or family member be with them or stay in a recovery facility the night of surgery.  They typically fly home after the cast and appropriate sutures are removed on the 6th post-operative day. They are advised to chew gum or use nasal sprays to clear their airway before and during flight. 

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Best to fly home after about 7 days after Rhinoplasty

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It is advisable to remain in the area for about a week to make sure things are healing well and for bleeding risks to decrease. Having said that, not all patients can afford to wait that long and we've had some patients fly home the next day after we see them in clinic. It is critical that patients avoid any heavy lifting (ie more than 15-20 lbs). It's probably best not to carry on heavy items or have to reach to place things in the overhead compartment. Expect your nose to be stuffy and you may have problems clearing your ears during the flight. Spraying Afrin an hour before the descent may help.

Sheldon S. Kabaker, MD FACS
San Francisco Facial Plastic Surgeon

Fly home 7 days After Rhinoplasty

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It is advisable to stay in town for at least 7 days after Rhinoplasty. This allows for early packing removal and cast/suture removal on postoperative day seven.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 104 reviews

Flying after rhinoplasty

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We suggest that our out-of-town patients stay nearby for at least the first week since there are at least a couple post-op visits in that time-frame. Airplane cabins are dry, so lots of nasal saline spray can help with comfort. Nasal congestion can make it harder to clear middle ear pressure, especially on descent, so we recommend a couple squirts of Afrin about 30 minutes before the flight. It lasts about 10-12 hours. I also suggest that patients get up and move about the cabin every hour or so to avoid DVTs (blood clots in the deep veins of the legs...a risk after any surgery).

Even after the first week, there are a number of important post-op visits that we like patients to attend, so it's important to be flexible with any travel schedule.

All the best,


David C. Pearson, MD
Jacksonville Facial Plastic Surgeon

Rhinoplasty and travel

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I generally recommend that you wait at least a week prior to travel after surgery. You will be need to be seen by your surgeon for splint removal during this time. You should have someone with you overnight for at least the first day or two after surgery. Your surgeon may be able to reocmmend a private duty nurse if you do not have anyone to fill this need. Flying earlier is mainly a risk because if you experience bleeding or any anesthesia complications, you won't have the necessary resources. Good luck.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.