Getting Back Behind the Wheel: Post-Surgery Driving Guidelines

Recovering from surgery and getting back to a normal routine is an exciting milestone for patients. One of the most common questions that arises after surgery is When can I start driving again? While it’s understandable to want to resume activities like driving as soon as possible, it is crucial to wait until you are fully healed and able to control a vehicle safely.

Whether you consider face procedure or breast surgery, driving too soon after surgery can endanger you, your passengers, and others on the road. Even if you feel okay, driving with narcotics in your system will automatically make you liable if an accident occurs. You could face charges of driving under the influence and negligence.

General Driving Guidelines 

Whether you should consider a tummy tuck or breast implant surgery, you should not drive for 24 hours after any procedure that involves general anaesthesia, sedation, or IV narcotics for pain control. Even if you feel relatively alert, your reaction time and coordination could still be affected during this time frame. Arrange for someone to drive you home after your procedure and assist with transportation for at least the initial day.

For procedures under local anaesthesia without sedation, you’ll likely be able to drive yourself home after a brief recovery period in the hospital. However, you still need to take precautions if numbness or pain could hinder your ability to control the vehicle safely. Wait until full sensation returns before resuming driving.

Always consult with your physician about specific limitations after your particular procedure. They may recommend waiting 48 hours or longer if it involves more extensive surgery, general anaesthesia, or prescription pain medications. Carefully follow their timeline before considering driving again.

Medications and Driving 

Anaesthesia chemicals and prescription pain pills can both potentially impair driving ability. The residual effects of general anaesthesia can last for up to 48 hours for some patients. Even after the grogginess wears off, delayed reaction times and reduced alertness may persist.

Opioid pain relievers also slow reflexes and judgement skills. When combined with anaesthesia, the effects can be increased, requiring extra precaution. Never drive if you sense even the slightest impairment from the lasting effects of surgical anaesthesia or while under the influence of prescription pain medications.

Physical Factors

Beyond medications, you also need to ensure you have regained strength, mobility, and clear vision before operating a vehicle. Consider these physical factors:

Mobility – You must be able to get in and out of a car, turn your head comfortably, sit up straight, operate the pedals, and properly control the steering wheel without limitation or severe pain. Do not attempt to drive with an immobilised limb, limited range of motion, or while wearing a sling or brace that could interfere with driving tasks.

Strength – Driving requires stamina and the ability to react quickly using your arms and legs. Delay driving until any anaesthesia-related weakness has fully resolved. 

Vision – Your vision must be fully clear and focused. Any issues, such as double vision, eye patches, or blurred vision, resulting from procedures involving anaesthesia can significantly hinder your ability to drive safely. 

Listen to What Your Body Tells You 

The most important gauge is how you feel. Even if your doctor gives you the green light, only drive again when you feel fully recovered, clear-headed, and capable. If you have any lingering pain, weakness, side effects, or sensations that seem bothersome or potentially unsafe for driving, hold off a bit longer. Don’t rush back too soon. Allow your body adequate rest and recovery time before taking on the responsibilities of driving. With patience and common sense, you’ll know when you are truly ready to hit the road again after your procedure.

The Bottom Line

Patients should prioritise their own comfort and confidence when deciding to resume driving after cosmetic surgery, and they should adhere to the guidance provided by their medical team. Considering personal safety and the safety of fellow road users is crucial. This includes the ability to maintain full control over their vehicle, such as by executing emergency stops, which should be a key consideration.

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Bikram is the founder of He is a professional blogger with 5 years of experience who is interested in topics related to SEO, technology, and the internet. Our goal with this blog is to provide you with valuable information.

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