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Flying the day after VSG? Is it a bad idea?



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Hi All - This is my first post here. I'm scheduled for surgery on Weds. I recently relocated for work and so my surgery is in Atlanta where I used to live, even though I now live in Nashville. My plan was to have the surgery in the morning, work from home all day on surgery day, then the very next day (after surgery) to work from home all day, and then fly home back to nashville that night.

So basically to get on a plane (it's only a 1 hour flight) about ~30-35 hours post surgery.

How feasible is this? Will I be in too much pain or be too comfortbale? Will the airpressure cause issues?

Any advice or thoughts appreciated.

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I wasn't in pain, but I pretty much just slept the day of surgery and the next day. No way I could have worked. In fact, I was in the hospital for two nights. I'm not sure about the plane - I guess it would be possible, but you're going to be really tired, most likely.

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I think you should be talking to your surgeon about this, I'd be amazed if this was permitted, especially with all the gas in your abdomen.

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I worked the morning before my VSG. But I was pretty out of it afterwards. I think I sent a few emails on my phone post surgery, but it was probably risky 😂. I was fully functional the next day and worked on my phone until I was discharged and from home afterwards. I had no gas pain, and could have flown that evening if necessary, but it would have been exhausting. I know I was also very fortunate how easy my surgery and recovery was.

Since you're able to work remotely, can you stay a few days longer?

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Are you not staying in the hospital??

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I just went through this. Because of COVID19, my plans changed very last minute and instead of two nights in a "luxury suite" in the bariatric wing of the hospital, I ended up having out patient surgery and one night with nurses attending at the Hampton Inn and Suites. My daughter, who was my primary care giver, had a doctor's appointment the following day in Orlando (3 hours away) and so left on the day of surgery, knowing I had the nurses to care for me. They left at 7AM and my daughter came back to get me at 3:30PM. I was fine BUT miserable...the pain is real. Then we drove home and I couldn't have done it without her. I also groaned, whined and burped a lot, with my seat fully reclined and a blanket and pillow to be as comfortable as possible. And I made sure to take an Oxycodone right before we left.

So, here's the thing...I could NOT have worked after surgery or the next day. I cannot imagine getting on a plane by myself and navigating my luggage, meds, etc. However, I am 57, so I'm sure that I don't spring back as well as I used to!!

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This is definitely a question for your surgeon. I rode in a car for five hours the day after and I was fine, but with a flight you have to worry about air pressure changes. Even though the cabin is pressurized they don’t keep the pressure the same as at sea level, typically they maintain the pressure equivalent as if you were at 6-8000ft. That lower pressure will cause gas pockets in your abdomen to expand. The effects of that I won’t pretend to know but I can’t imagine it would be comfortable if you still have gas surrounding your organs from the surgery. My surgeon required one additional day in the hospital for patients flying home. I would make it a priority to get ahold of your surgeon and find out his or her recommendation.

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For insurance reasons, I also had my surgery out of state and had to fly home. I had my surgery on a Tuesday and flew home on Thursday. My surgeon knew it going into it and had no objections or even specific advice.

Just a few pointers:

  • You shouldn't be lifting much right after surgery, so you're going to need someone to handle your bags and/or put your items in the overhead bin. I recommend that you either fly with a buddy or let the aiport/airline know that you need assistance.
  • Make sure you have some Water or SF liquids with you to make sure you don't get dehydrated.
  • Be prepared for some extra gas pain. As the plane ascends/descends, the pressure in the cabin changes and so does the pressure in the gas that's still in your body. It was uncomfortable for me, but not intolerable.
  • Also be prepared for some extra jiggling/bumping around. My surgical incisions and sore belly felt every bump going down the runway and as we got in the air. Again, uncomfortable but not intolerable.

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OK, so I’m just going to put it out there. There is absolutely no way you will be able to work, not even remotely, on the day of your surgery. It will take you the rest of the day just to come out of the anesthesia. You will be sleeping a lot. You will also have to get up and walk constantly to prevent blood clots.

As far as the flying, you should not have any problems. I had my surgery at Blossom in Las Vegas on a Thursday and I flew home first thing Saturday morning. I did not have any issues with the difference in air pressure and I flew all the way across the country back to North Carolina at 36,000 ft.

The above post is absolutely correct in that you will not be able to lift your bags. I was told not to lift anything over 5 pounds for the first two weeks.

You really need to have someone there with you, so I hope you do have someone. The nurse at Blossom advised me on surgery day to have my husband “pound” on my back every hour to help with the gas. I was surprised, but it really did help a lot!

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@S@ssen@ch has some great advice. I was going to ask if you were flying alone or with someone. How are you getting home from the airport? How do you normally handle pain meds? Make sure you have your home set up for your return. Water, Jello, Protein Drinks, etc. Have a back up plan for once you get home. Do you have a doctor set up in your new town yet? If not, do so. Have your WLS recommend someone local in case you need them, someone he can work with. You don't want to get back home and have no one to turn too. I also took stole softeners for about a week before. constipation is reallllll.

I would also make sure the airport knows you will need assistance getting on and off the plan. Have them wheel you around and take your bag. Travel as lite as you can. I wouldn't worry about makeup and such. My bag consisted of: my meds, hair brush, toothbrush & paste, deodorant, clean underwear, loose pants and top (two each), slip on shoes (one pair), socks, small blanket (throw). I also would only carry my wallet if you can... toting around a heavy purse is not fun. I know this will sound crazy, but make a list of who to call in case of ER and have it in your wallet on a piece of color paper... like bright pink, green, yellow... On it also write that you just had gastric surgery and your sx phone #. Set up your ER # on your phone.

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On 8/4/2020 at 6:04 AM, New&Improved said:

Are you not staying in the hospital??

I did not stay in the hospital, in fact I didn't even have my surgery in a hospital. I had my surgery on 8/5 and it was in a medical office that had a surgery room/suite attached to it.

The day of I was in pre-op for about 20 minutes, then I was in surgery for about 1 hour, and then I was in post op for about 1 hour. So 2.5 hours after my scheduled surgery I was in my car and on my way home. It worked out fine for me.

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On 8/3/2020 at 10:18 PM, Pckeys said:

I think you should be talking to your surgeon about this, I'd be amazed if this was permitted, especially with all the gas in your abdomen.

I ended up asking my surgeon the day of, and he "okayed" it. That being said I ended up not feeling up to flying and decided to stay an extra day or two and then drive back (it's only a 4 hour drive).

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On 8/4/2020 at 8:58 AM, Luv2cruz said:

OK, so I’m just going to put it out there. There is absolutely no way you will be able to work, not even remotely, on the day of your surgery. It will take you the rest of the day just to come out of the anesthesia. You will be sleeping a lot. You will also have to get up and walk constantly to prevent blood clots.

As far as the flying, you should not have any problems. I had my surgery at Blossom in Las Vegas on a Thursday and I flew home first thing Saturday morning. I did not have any issues with the difference in air pressure and I flew all the way across the country back to North Carolina at 36,000 ft.

The above post is absolutely correct in that you will not be able to lift your bags. I was told not to lift anything over 5 pounds for the first two weeks.

You really need to have someone there with you, so I hope you do have someone. The nurse at Blossom advised me on surgery day to have my husband “pound” on my back every hour to help with the gas. I was surprised, but it really did help a lot!

It ended up being very interesting, the day of surgery I was back home about 2.5-3 hours after surgery. I took an hour nap, then woke up and checked emails. I didn't have any meetings that day which was good. However the day after surgery I had 4-5 video conference calls, all of which I attended. I ended up finding out that day that my boss was taking a leave of absence and I'd be taking her place while she was gone. This meant a whole shift in the work i did and a lot more urgency than my usual role. I ended up working all day Thursday, and all day Friday (had my surgery on weds). Then I drove home Saturday morning. Was it comfortable - no, would I have rather layed in bed - yes, was it super difficult or near impossible - no.

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