Ask DAN: Diving after surgery

I recently had surgery; when can I dive again?

The type or complexity of the surgery directly affects recovery time. The act of diving does not necessitate specific consideration or a protracted recovery time following most uncomplicated surgeries. Exceptions to this general rule involve major organ surgery, i.e., heart, lung, brain, spinal cord and orthopaedic repairs requiring hardware, joint and bone reconstruction. Your surgeon is the best resource to discuss specifics such as the procedure, recovery time and potential complications. If the surgery prompts the need for structured rehabilitation, it can be considered more complex and will most likely indicate a longer recovery period.

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When can one safely return to diving after general surgeries? The essential advice is to refrain from diving activities until you are completely healed. The incision(s) should be well healed, and you should be free of pain and recovered from any post-operative complications. When your surgeon releases you for activity without restriction, you can consider a return to diving. Remember that despite complete healing, you may still need time to adequately recover strength, stamina and exercise capacity. Consider a cautious approach to your initial dives. Start in a controlled environment prior to remote travel or dives in rough conditions. The healing process often takes longer than we would like, so please be patient and follow these recommendations to increase your chances for a successful recovery.

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