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Flying After Rhinoplasty

A very common question that arises in a patient’s busy schedule is when can you travel after having a rhinoplasty operation. This is a very important factor when booking in for your procedure, especially if you have already arranged travelling, whether business or pleasure.

Regardless of whether your travel is by flight or long-distance train/car journeys, our surgeon’s first preference is that you are close to them in the first 14 days of having the procedure. This is simply because, in the rare event of a complication such as a minor infection from airborne bacteria, we can organise for your care and well-being much more swiftly.

Berkeley Square Medical has one of the lowest complication rates in rhinoplasty in the UK with only 1% of patients returning for minor infections and no patients admitted for revision surgery since 2008.

One of the most commonly asked questions specifically relates to flying and what effects travelling at high altitudes has on the results of your rhinoplasty procedure.

Our rhinoplasty specialists have specific post-operative instructions when it comes to you flying, and this largely depends on the extent of surgery that you have done.

Some patients are clear to travel after a week after their surgery once they have had their post-operative review by our nursing team, while others may have to wait up to 14 days. Usually, around this time the patient is safe to fly.

For patients travelling in for their Rhinoplasty procedures from abroad – as it happens often with revision Rhinoplasty patients – Berkeley Square medical will always have prepared a surgeon or consultant of equal expertise in your local country, that will take instructions under our guidance for your continued care.

female patient on airport after surgery

It is not uncommon for certain airlines to not allow passengers on board a flight so early in their recovery period and in most cases if you are travelling

The issues that patients have with travelling at high altitudes within 14 days of their surgery include discomfort, mild bleeding, infections, and nausea. With regards to nose bells at high altitudes, this can (in rare cases) upset the final result of the procedure, but in almost all cases will delay your recovery period.

Below we look at the four most common side effects when travelling after having a Rhinoplasty:


You may not have known that air can be trapped inside the tissues of your nose after undergoing a rhinoplasty procedure. It usually takes up to seven days for the air to be absorbed. Travelling within this time by flight can cause pain and discomfort and this is because the air within the nasal tissue can expand at high altitudes. This can cause a blocked sinus on your flight which can be quite a discomfort.


The most common time of minor nose bleeds occurs during the first 7 days (before your post-operative appointment). You must consider that the air you breathe on a plane is re-circulated and this increases the risk of bleeding and possible bacterial infection. Those who are on long-haul flights or connecting flights must factor in the delay they could cause in receiving an assessment from a surgeon or doctor.


Going back to the risk of breathing re-circulated air, you may want to know that being in public places with thousands of passengers at airports passing through one building at any given time, can cause air borne bacteria to form on the internal incision made on your nose. The signs of an infection are most commonly found through a distinct sour smell when breathing in and out. This infection is generally treated with a course of antibiotics of 5-7 days. For precaution reasons, whether you are due to fly or not, we will always give you a course of antibiotics to take home after your procedure.


Airsickness is very common, especially if you are still on any post-operative medications. This can be uncomfortable and distressing if you are vomiting whilst on a flight. Vomiting is quite an aggressive reaction and can easily lead to nose bleeding.

You can get easily air sick especially if you are still on post-operative medications. There is a high chance that this could be accompanied by vomiting, which can also lead to nose bleeds.

Besides the above, you may want to consider other concerns when flying and take precautions accordingly. This includes lifting and carrying heavy baggage as this puts strain and pressure on your nose.

You should even try to avoid exposure to the sun as your nose heals for at least six weeks. This is because sunburn can damage the top layer of your skin which could make the operated skin take much longer to heal. Always remember that anything that delays your recovery, acts as a risk of ruining the final results of your procedure.

To best minimise any problems when it comes to travelling after having rhinoplasty surgery, you can use nasal over-the-counter decongestant sprays to help you deal better with the changes in pressure in the cabin of a plane. Please always discuss this with us if you intend to use a nasal spray so we can guide you accordingly.

Always try to map out your travelling dates and your expected recovery time. Give yourself plenty of time to recuperate. However in certain cases where travelling after having a rhinoplasty is unavoidable, discuss this thoroughly with our surgeon. We will create a more specific post-operative guidance to ensure you are safely recovering, even if traveling.

London Cosmetic Surgery Group Berkeley Square Medical, is one of the UK’s leading providers of Aesthetic Surgery. For more information about having a rhinoplasty, please visit our Rhinoplasty Page. 

Sanjay Rai

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