Flying After Surgery

Dr David Colvin workers compensation

07/01/2019 Dr. David Colvin, trained in orthopaedic surgery in Perth. David's specialty is knee and shoulder surgery and sports injuries.

For many people, flying is a critical part of their job.

Here are some tips if you do have to fly after surgery.

  • Do not take a long international flight for six weeks after lower limb surgery.  This risk of deep vein thrombosis is substantially increased.  Shorter domestic flights may be tolerated with simple precautions.
  • Calf stockings. 
    Short below knee inflight stockings are an effective way of preventing clotting in the lower legs.  They will also reduced swelling in your feet and you will arrive at your destination feeling fresher.
  • Walk frequently. 
    Try and get an aisle seat and get up and walk around regularly.  By moving the ankle and knee joint and contracting the calf muscles, it keeps blood flowing in the legs and prevents clotting.
  • Aspirin. 
    Aspirin has a low grade anti-clotting effect.  Taking half an Aspirin a day for a few days before flying may reduce the risk of clotting.
  • Keep well hydrated. 
    Drink water regularly.  Do not drink alcohol as it causes dehydration.
  • Do not forget the fitness to fly certificate. 
    If you are wearing a splint or brace or it is obvious that you have had recent surgery, the airline may insist on a fitness to fly certificate.  Get this from the office before travelling to the airport.
  • Travel insurance. 
    Be aware that you may be obliged to declare your surgery to your travel insurer.

Overall the risk of deep vein thrombosis is low unless you have a history of clotting in the past.  If your calf swells up considerably, then you should see a doctor to ensure that there has not been a deep vein thrombosis.  This is diagnosed with an ultrasound of the calf. 

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Dr David Colvin consults at:
Western Orthopaedic Clinic

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Dr David Colvin operates at:
St John of God Subiaco Hospital
12 Salvado Rd,
Subiaco WA 6008