Flying After Carpal Tunnel Surgery

Getting home after FIFO surgery

Generally you will need to wait 24 hours after your surgery before flying. However, there are a number of factors to consider before booking your flight. Make sure you consider the following:

Airline regulations

Each airline has its own regulations about flying after surgery. Make sure you enquire with them and have any necessary paperwork organised before your flight.  See our Flying after surgery page for more information on selected airlines and their medical clearance requirements.


Especially if you are travelling alone, you won’t be able to carry bags and do some things you typically use your hands for. Transiting through the airport, managing tickets, and other simple activities may be more difficult.  Make sure to leave extra time to get through check-in.

Medical follow-up

You will need to see Dr McLean for a post-operative assessment and to get your stitches out 10-14 days after surgery.

Pain medication

Dr McLean will prescribe pain medication after your surgery. He may also recommend medication to reduce the risk of blood clots, or antibiotics to decrease the risk of infection.

It is a good idea to travel with a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor detailing the type of medication you are taking, and the reason for your prescription.

Travel insurance

Your surgery may affect your travel insurance. Check your policy carefully, and contact your insurance provider for advice on whether you will be covered for potential post-surgery issues while you are away.

Further Reading

Carpal Tunnel Surgery and Recovery

When surgery is the best option, Dr McLean will perform a relatively simple operation.  It involves cutting the transverse carpal ligament over the top of the carpal tunnel, which relieves pressure on the median nerve below.  As your body heals the injury to the ligament, scar tissue forms which should prevent the buildup of pressure on the nerve.

Dr McLean prefers to manage carpal tunnel syndrome using a minimally-invasive, key-hole endoscopic surgical technique (when indicated).  An open technique can also be used and involves a slightly larger incision and clear visualisation of the structures inside the carpal tunnel.  For more information about driving after carpal tunnel surgery, read this guide.

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