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According to the University of San Francisco Medical Center:1
- You should not drive till the time you are on pain medications (usually for a week after surgery) and/or are unable to tie the seat belt.
- Narcotic medications can make you less alert, which can be hazardous to driving.
- This means that you will have to stay away from the steering wheel for at least a week after bariatric surgery.
How Soon After Bariatric Surgery Can You Drive?
- It varies from person to person.
- One way to check is to see if you are able to perform an emergency stop while driving a manual vehicle. As long as you don’t feel fully aware of your surroundings, do not drive.
- Driving should not lead to abdominal cramps.
- According to University of Iowa,2 after the medication has been stopped and the pain has subsided, wait for at least 24 hours to start driving again.
Tips to Drive Back Safely After Bariatric Surgery
- If you are going to drive to the hospital, then we suggest you take a companion along who can drive you back safely.
- Your body needs rest after bariatric surgery and driving immediately post-op can hurt the incisions especially if the road is bumpy or involves sharp turns.
- In case you’ve made the decision to drive solo, make sure to take breaks in between by stopping occasionally and walking. This is good for the newly altered stomach, although it will increase the travelling time.
- Take more fluids after weight loss surgery. Keeping yourself hydrated will make the journey much more bearable.
- Wear compression stockings to prevent deep vein thrombosis.
- Put on loose clothes to avoid unnecessary friction.
- Prepare yourself mentally. If you can tolerate the pain, then go ahead (but only after the approval of your surgeon).
- It is advisable to begin with shorter trips and move to longer ones only when you are able to start walking properly.
Our Clients’ Experience Driving Back Home from Tijuana After WLS
Many of our clients have their gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgery in Tijuana. Some of them prefer driving down to Tijuana on their own. We’ve compiled their personal experience here.
- Most took their family members along who then drove them back home from Tijuana after bariatric surgery.
- Quite a few of them, however, drove themselves immediately after surgery for 4-6 hours from the San Diego airport, the nearest American airport to Tijuana, to their residence.
- As per the guidelines of the bariatric surgeon, they took one-hour breaks to avoid exertion.
- While a number of clients started driving 4 days post-op, some of them experienced pain for as long as two weeks after their weight loss surgery and hence, stayed away from the steering wheel.
Please remember that every individual is different. Make sure you take your bariatric surgeon’s approval before you drive back on your own after surgery.
- “Recovering from Bariatric Surgery.” UCSF Health, https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/recovering_from_bariatric_surgery/
- Jessica Smith. “General FAQs About Bariatric Surgery.” University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, https://uihc.org/health-topics/general-faqs-about-bariatric-surgery
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Now is the time to take charge of your life!