When you’re planning to have surgery, there are a lot of details to work out. What clothes should you pack? What medications will you be taking? If you’re flying home after surgery, how will you get on the plane, can you have someone travel with you and what if you need additional assistance? Here are the answers to those travel questions and more:

Airlines

The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction is conveniently located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, a mere 20 minutes from the Charleston International Airport in North Charleston and five minutes from East Cooper Hospital in Mount Pleasant. Multiple airlines offer direct service from Charleston, including Southwest, Frontier, American, Jet Blue, United, and Alaska Airlines, but of course, your specific airline will depend on where you live.

All airlines offer assistance for post-op patients, from wheelchairs to help you through the airport to your flight as well as priority seating and boarding. The airlines require that you request your wheelchair and other assistance at the time of your reservation. Once you arrive at the airport, you must identify as having requested aid, so they know you are there. Also, ask about help at any connection points, if applicable, and when landing at your destination.

After surgery, it might not be easy to take care of certain tasks on the plane, so you can purchase a ticket for a companion or personal care assistant to accompany you. Ask the airline you are flying, because some, such as Frontier, provide complimentary seating for your assistant. They are also permitted to board early with you and be seated with you. Airlines are required to assist you in getting to your next point of travel, whether that be the baggage claim area, or a different gate or terminal for a connecting flight (even if it is on another airline).

Accommodations

There are many places that you and your loved ones can stay near the Center. You can choose from a hotel, vacation rental, or AirBnb. Rates will change depending on the time of year and the number of guests you bring to help with your recuperation. In some cases, hotels may offer special reduced rates for guests in town for medical emergencies or procedures. Call the hotels or inns directly as opposed to booking on a national reservation line or website.

VRBO stands for Vacation Rental By Owner. In most cases, these are rooms or homes that are rented through the owner. If you are looking to recuperate in something a little homier and less hotel-like, you might be able to rent a single-family home. Again, rates will change based on the number of guests, and the time of year you will be staying.

You might find some suitable accommodations on the Airbnb website. Keep in mind that many rentals offer shared kitchens and bathrooms, which you may not want during recovery, so read the ads carefully.

The American Cancer Society Hope Lodge program also provides a free home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers. The Hope Lodge offers a supportive, home-like environment where you can share a meal, join in the evening’s activities, or unwind in your private room. Established in 1970, the Charleston Hope Lodge was the first of its kind. To stay at the Charleston lodge, you must reside more than 40 miles away from your cancer treatment center.

Research the accommodations as much as possible and make sure to get everything in writing. The most important consideration for your accommodations is what will make you the most comfortable during your post-operative time when you want to rest and recuperate.

COVID-19 UPDATE: The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction values the health and safety of our patients.

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