Question Regarding Traveling After Surgery?

I am having an abdominoplasty/panniculectomy and mastopexy/augmentation (150cc saline). I am having the surgery about 4 hours from my home and will have a 23 hour hospital stay immediately following. I'll have drains that need to be removed about 1 week post op. I have made arrangements to stay at a hotel in the area for that week in-between, but now think I'd prefer to be home in my own bed. Is it ok to travel home, via car as a passenger, the day after surgery then back the next week?

Doctor Answers 7

Traveling after Mommy Makeover?

Your plastic surgeon will be your best resource when it comes to these types of questions;  he/she knows exactly what is planned, will know whether you are experiencing any complications, and is ultimately responsible for your care.

 Best wishes

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,502 reviews

Travel after surgery

I think a big issue with travel after surgery is the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and possible subsequent pulmonary embolus (PE). Certainly long haul flights have a risk of DVT ("economy class syndrome") without surgery, and the risk is greatly increased if the two are combined. I am personally happy fo rmy patients to fly in the order of one hour after surgery, but instruct them to get an isle seat and get up and walk frequently. I would worry about a 4 hour car trip combined with a moderate risk operation such as abdominoplasty. I have had a patient who had a low risk liposuction procedure who ignored my advice and took a 5 hour car trip the day of his surgery and developed a DVT and PE.

I think if you did plan to drive 4hrs day 1 post abdominoplasty you would need to have good prophylaxsis including compression stockings and something like Clexane to thin the blood. As well you should stop every hour and walk.

Darrell Perkins, MBBS, FRACS
Sydney Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Cosmetic Surgery is an Art and a Science

Having an overnight stay is very common. In my experience, this arrangement is very successful. Always discuss your post op care with your surgeon. In my experience, you would be able to go home in a car after the overnight stay. All the best

Thomas A. Narsete, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Question Regarding Traveling After Surgery?

    In this situation, ask your surgeon as I could make a case for either scenario and can see how you would be more comfortable at home.  The problem with patients who do this is they are reluctant to come back if there is a problem or they wait too long.  If you are going to pursue this, your surgeon will probably recommend frequent stops with ambulation to reduce the risk of DVTs.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 496 reviews

Stay Close to Your Surgeon

A Mommy Makeover is a big operation that requires monitoring post-operatively to prevent complications and optimize your result.  You should ambulate ASAP after the procedure and remain as active as possible so being in your own bed too much or anywhere else isn't a great idea.  I definitely think its safer if you stay near your surgeon for the first week, have your drain(s) removed and then go home with peace of mind...good luck!

Eric Sadeh, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Travel after elective surgery

I do a fair number of elective operations for out-of-state and occasional out-of-country patients, though I have some restrictions before I recommend either. For out-of-country patients, I require them to remain in the Minneapolis area until their care is complete (drains out, even if longer than a week), and then allow travel back home only if adequate follow-up is arranged. Surgical tourism is a bad idea even if the patients are coming to me, unless they stay in my care so I can deal with any concerns. The same goes for patients considering care elsewhere, such as Mexico or the Dominican Republic. This is one area where haste does not make waste, it makes death (or serious complication) a possibility.

For any patient outside one hour's drive, I require staying at a local motel, and there must be a qualified care-giver present to call or drive them to my surgical facility should the need arise. For someone 4 hours' drive from Minneapolis, I would require staying in town at least overnight, then recheck by me the next day, and if all is well, travel home with stops every 45-60 minute for a short walk, good hydration, and frequent calf muscle "pumps." This is to minimize the higher potential for blood clots in this immediate-post-op setting. If they had multiple procedures, or require more care, I request that they stay in the hotel a day or two longer as needed.

Using this "formula" has allowed many of my patients to undergo surgery in my nationally-accredited (AAAASF) office surgical facility as an outpatient, stay in town until the effects of anesthesia have dissipated (we use TIVA, so there is minimal "hangover" and 2-3% post-op nausea and vomiting, even with long cases) overnight, and then return to their own home for recovery. I next see patients at one week post-op in most all cases, so that again involves travel. Or they can stay in town.

Talk with your surgeon and see if this plan is agreeable to him/her. There are slightly increased risks, but if you plan carefully and do not take foolish chances, things usually work out just fine. Best wishes and good luck! Dr. Tholen

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Out of Town Surgery Care

I frequently perform procedures on patients from out of town.   It is most important to be safe and understand that there are risks with surgery that need to be closely monitored.   In addition,  the risk of blood clots is significant in early travel after surgery.

I would recommend staying some additional nights in the hospital or at a hotel nearby for the first 72 hours.   I would then visit with your surgeon and determine if it is safe to go home.    If you do travel.  I would recommend frequent leg movement and stopping the car to walk a few times on the way.


I wish you a safe and healthy recovery

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

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.