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Flying 9 days post op

Lady_butlerLLady_butler Posts: 2
edited 01/23/2015 - 9:10 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I will be having level II lumbar fusion and decompression of L4 L5 and S1. My daughter's are with my mom in another state. I'd like to be there for my oldest birthday which means flying 9 days after fusion. Anyone who had this surgery can you give me advise? I know everyone heals different and every surgery is different. The flights will be 4 1/2 hrs total travel time.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 01/23/2015 - 9:16 PM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I had to fly from Boston to London 6 days after my L3-S1 fusion and laminectomy. My mother was in intensive care in London and not expected to live. It wasn't easy and it helped that I had a flat bed on the plane so I wasn't sitting up. I had a wheelchair at both ends. I could walk fine but it helped expedite me through security and help with my bags. I wouldn't recommend it unless it was an emergency.
  • I would say that would be risky. Your neurosurgeon needs to first approve this. With my fusion I had a hard time sitting up for more than 30 minutes to an hour due to pain. You never know how you would feel after it and if it were me I wouldn't risk it. Especially with an elevated chance of infection also because you still have an open and healing wound and there are many germs that you could get infected from. I would say your pushing it, these surgeries are big. I personally was in the hospital for 7 days with my 3rd fusion, 5 for the first and 6 for the second. That would be pushing your recovery time I would say. Talk to your surgeon about it though as they may be able to address why you can or can't and what they recommend, my surgeon said I had to wait 6 weeks for travel unless an emergency came up.
  • It's simply not worth the backslide and suffering.

    If you do go, wheelchair and lying down seating would help.

    Bring all of your medications and I would get clearance from the surgeon.
  • As you said, we all heal differently, but I have flown after L3-5 decompression & lam. and then a fusion at L3-4 three months later. The airline company was great.....had me in a wheelchair as soon as I arrived to the airport. They took me right down to the door of the plane and a wheelchair was waiting for me when I arrived to my destination. If you and your Doctor think it's ok and your pain is under control, then you have to make that decision. For me, I had a tough time with any turbulence and the amount of time required to sit. Landing was rough the first time but returning, it was MUCH better.
  • Before 3 months. After my 6-level fusion, he did not want me to go on a long (12 hours) car trip, he said it would be better to fly. But keep in mind, this was at least after 3 months. The best would be to ask your own surgeon, although I have the feeling, that after 9 days you will not want to fly anyways.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    edited 05/12/2015 - 4:05 AM
    I think you would be gambling way too much to fly that soon after fusion surgery.

    But, put this into the hands of your doctor and ask their opinion....

    If they say Yes, then ok,,,, (but still be prepared to be in some additional pain)
    And if they say No, they stay put
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I had a single fusion (L5/S1) and have a pretty high pain tolerance. I cannot imagine flying or even driving for 4+ hours (what happens if your flight is delayed?) Even at almost 8 months out, sitting for long periods of time gets uncomfortable. I personally wouldn't do it unless it was an absolute emergency. I would also think you will be at an elevated risk for blood clots, which would be a very bad thing after a fusion.
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    are always a risk when flying for extended periods of time.

    And for patients with spinal problems, this can be a bigger risk. That why it is so very important to get up and stretch, walk around for about 5-10 minutes before going back to your seat.

    That is one of the reasons that when we fly, I look for the last couple of seats on the plane. This way I am much less of a disruption to others when I get up and walk around.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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