Out of town rhinoplasty patients typically choose this arrangement because they could not find a local plastic surgeon they are “comfortable” with.
Despite the challenges facing out of town rhinoplasty patients, with proper planning and some due diligence most people can have a gratifying experience from this.
Dr. Tarick Smiley, a board-certified plastic surgeon who has performed thousands of rhinoplasties, has provided basic tips for patients needing to travel for nose surgery.
- Find a reputable plastic surgeon.
A good rule of thumb is to find a board-certified plastic surgeon (i.e., American Board of Plastic Surgery member) who performs rhinoplasty and its ancillary procedures (reconstructive type such as septoplasty) on a regular basis.
- Avoid traveling by plane 1-2 weeks postop.
The changes in air pressure, the physical stress of rushing from one airport to the next with a heavy luggage in tow, and the side effects of narcotic painkillers can make long travel inadvisable, or even dangerous.
Traveling by plane too soon could also lead to persistent swelling (which of course affects breathing and healing), nosebleeds, and other things that could prevent the patient from achieving optimal results.
However, patients can travel sooner by car (about 5-7 days) provided that their sutures and splints have already been removed, and they have a designated driver. They should never drive by themselves because the effects of narcotic painkillers include extreme lethargy and poor coordination.
- Make arrangements for follow-up visits.
Most surgeons require 1-2 follow-up visits within two weeks postop to ensure that their patients are healing nicely. For this reason, they may have to stay in the immediate vicinity of their surgeon’s office (e.g., a nearby hotel).
- Consider video chat.
Many surgeons even require follow-up visits up to 6-12 months, depending on patient availability. Sometimes, a video chat could suffice particularly when long travel is not possible or is rather too inconvenient.
- Build rapport with a local doctor.
Finding a local doctor prior to surgery can help patients feel more secure after they leave their surgeon’s “premises.” It is important to note that serious complications such as infection, should they occur, mostly happen in the first three weeks of surgery.