FAQ: Flying After Surgery - deep vein thrombosis can occur when flying long distances

FAQ: Flying After Surgery

For surgery on the arms and upper extremities, the risk of developing blood clots, etc, AFTER surgery is unknown, but thought to be very low. No one knows the true risk. In my experience, one week is fine. I've never had anyone get a blood clot with those guidelines.

Deep vein thrombosis occurs when flying long distance because you are sat down for long periods of time with limited opportunities to move around. You are also more likely to become dehydrated, dehydration can cause the blood to become thicker than usual. Deep vein thrombosis is often referred to as Economy Class Syndrome, this is incorrect as people sat in first class are equally at risk. Deep vein thrombosis can happen in other types of long journeys as well.


When flying you should follow these guidelines set by British Airways:

  •  Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.
  •  Avoid drinking alcohol and drinks with caffeine, such as tea and coffee.
  •  Avoid smoking.
  •  Stand up in your seat area and stretch your arms and legs.
  •  Get up and move around as often as you can (at least twice an hour).
  •  When sitting try moving your ankles around and going up and down on your tiptoes.
  •  Avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
  •  Avoid wearing tight clothes especially, socks or tights that are too restrictive.
  •  Seek medical advice before travelling, if you have a previous history of deep vein thrombosis or you believe you might be at risk.

Further information from PreventDisease.com: Flying Far? Watch for DVT

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I thought surgery and rehab were going to be a miserable experience, but neither was too bad. Thanks again.

– DL