After a trip to Turkey to undergo “Cat-Eye” surgery, TikToker and Only Fans model Weronika was on a flight returning to London just hours post-procedure when she says heard an audible pop behind her ear and thought her “head exploded” mid flight. “We were on the plane, everything was chill, we’ve gone to sleep because we’d been traveling since 2:00 a.m., and I wake up and am in a lot of pain,” said the model in a now viral video about her medical tourism experience.
When she went to check on her sutures, Weronika says she felt a warm liquid coming down her neck. Her first thought was that her head exploded in flight, but what actually happened had more to do with altitude than an internal explosion. “It is hard to say exactly what happened or if it even related to her canthopexy eye surgery,” says Boca Raton, FL oculoplastic surgeon Steven Fagien, MD. “The ‘exploding head’ feeling can stem from a variety of situations when a recent patient hops on a plane too soon after surgery. It’s likely more from swelling that pressurized jet cabins can cause and has less to do with the canthopexy stitch—although significant swelling can ‘pull’ the sutures.”
“Increased cabin pressure will cause tissues to swell,” adds Delray Beach, FL facial plastic surgeon Miguel Mascaro, MD. “When you add normal swelling from increased cabin pressure to post-surgical swelling, you can have this happen unfortunately. The first 48 to 72 hours is really when peak swelling will occur after surgery.”
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Weronika shared in her TikTok story that prior to boarding, Turkish airport officials asked for a “fit to fly” certificate and she had to obtain authorization from her surgeon to get on the plane. “Realistically, what I tell my patients is to wait at least 4 to 5 days after any minor procedure to fly. If they have something more major or invasive involving the face, brows, or the eyes, I recommend they wait a full week before getting on the plane to make sure that maximum swelling from the immediate surgery has gone down.”
More than half of Dr. Fagien’s patients live outside of his area and they more often prefer to leave as soon as possible. “One week is recommended and depending on their particular situation I might bend these rules, but I advise them that I will only allow them to have an ‘early departure’ if I believe it is safe.” Hopefully Weronika’s viral story will serve as a warning for other patients traveling during post-op. “Increased swelling, as mentioned, is a risk and on the off chance that there is bleeding, there usually isn’t someone competent or versed to handle these situations on a plane,” says Dr. Fagien.
As far as Weronika’s result, her recovery may take a little longer than she’d planned: “Long story short I ended up with a infected oozing hole behind my ear but it’s clearing up now and it’s all good I just have to be careful before it shuts,” she told followers.