Getting Behind the Wheel

Man driving a car

You wouldn’t drive drunk, and you’d pull over if you were falling asleep while driving. So, if your surgeon tells you it’s not safe to drive after surgery, you’d follow their instructions, right? After plastic surgery some patients choose to get behind the wheel before being given the green light from their surgeon, but it’s important to understand and appreciate the reasons a doctor may choose to limit a patient’s driving privileges.

  1. Medications. The medications used as anesthesia during surgery and the medications used to control pain after surgery are drugs that slow reaction times and induce drowsiness. Of course, this isn’t a problem if you’re being a model patient and lying on the couch or in bed, but it does become a problem if you’re trying to operate a motor vehicle.
  2. Distraction. When you’re driving, the last thing you need is a distraction. Unfortunately, if you’ve just had surgery and you’re trying to sit up to drive, you may get just that. Pain is, to some degree, inevitable after certain procedures and can be made worse by overdoing it or sitting in an uncomfortable position. If a pang of pain hits while you’re driving, the consequences of the distraction could be very serious.
  3. Vision. After eyelid surgery, a brow lift, and some other procedures, the area around the eyes can be swollen. Swelling in the eye area can impair vision. Obviously, you need to be able to see in front of you and around you when you’re driving. If you can’t see, you can’t drive.

So, let’s think of ways to help you avoid the temptation to drive after surgery. A good, very general rule is to be prepared for your recovery. (You can read my blog about recovery prep here.) More specifically, I think the best way to avoid situations where you’d be tempted to drive is to have a friend or family member “on call” to assist you during your recovery. This is helpful for many reasons, not just for driving. In addition to being your driver, your recovery buddy can run errands for you, help you with household chores, prepare food or beverages, and much more.

Driving isn’t prohibited after every procedure. In fact, there are plenty of minimally invasive treatments like BOTOX® Cosmetic injections or minor scar revisions (as opposed to larger surgical procedures in Scottsdale, such as liposuction or a tummy tuck) that allow you to get back to your usual routine – including driving – right away. But, for those procedures that do leave you “grounded,” your safety and the safety of those around you depends on you following doctor’s orders.

If you’ve had surgery and were told not to drive, what arrangements did you make? Do you have any tips for other patients?

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