Answered By AOPA
Hello, If a pilot with a current medical certificate (first or second or third), goes for a surgery, (minor or major), let's just say he/she undergoes a tennis elbow surgery or say a back surgery / knee surgery or even more complicated ones like a heart surgery, can he/she just get back to flying after the surgery and feels comfortable and safe to fly again? Or would he/she need to go back and re-take the medical certificate? If not, would he/she have to only mention it on the next appointment during the renewal of the medical certificate? 
4 Replies
AOPA Staff Answer
Ron gave you a great answer so I won't add much more. The pilot would still need to abide by regulation 61.53. As Ron and Bruce have said, there are conditions and procedures that would be disqualifying and would require a Special Issuance before the pilot could continue to fly:

Another thing the pilot would have to be aware of is if they currently have a Special Issuance. If there is a change in condition or treatment then the airmen would have to ground, report to the FAA, and wait for approval.
The relevant regulation is 61.53(a):

§61.53   Prohibition on operations during medical deficiency.

(a) Operations that require a medical certificate. Except as provided for in paragraph (b) of this section, no person who holds a medical certificate issued under part 67 of this chapter may act as pilot in command, or in any other capacity as a required pilot flight crewmember, while that person:

(1) Knows or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make the person unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation; or

(2) Is taking medication or receiving other treatment for a medical condition that results in the person being unable to meet the requirements for the medical certificate necessary for the pilot operation.

The pilot would have to decide whether the post-surgical condition or medications would prevent issuance of another medical certificate.  If not, the pilot can return to flying when they feel "fit to fly" and is off the unacceptable meds (usually a pain med is the issue in such cases), and just make mention of it on the next medical application.

OTOH, if the post-surgical condition (say, reduced range of motion or sensation in the limb) would not allow unrestricted issuance, or the pilot is going to remain on unacceptable meds,  the pilot would have to apply for a new medical and go through the evaluation/special issuance process before flying again.  Alternatively, as long as the condition isn't one of the six areas listed in 14 CFR 68.9(a) (cardiac, neurologic, etc), and the pilot won't be on a medication incompatible with safe flying, the pilot could go on Basic Med, within the limits for Basic Med flying.
Cool thank you.
In the case of heart surgery, you would have to win a special issuance as both valve disease and coronary disease are called out in the refs as grounding conditions......