How Soon Should You Fly After Surgery? | Reader's Digest

How Soon Should You Fly After Surgery?

New research reveals vein thrombosis can plague travelers who have recently undergone surgery. Here's what to know.

By Beth Howard from Reader's Digest | June 2009
Travel and Surgery Riskcomstock.comDoctors sometimes fail to warn their patients of the connection between air travel and surgery.

If you’re facing surgery this summer and planning a long plane flight, put some time between the two events, says a recent study. Air travel can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (potentially lethal blood clots in the deep veins of the legs), and the danger rises if you’ve recently had an operation — but doctors sometimes fail to warn their patients of the surgery connection, the researchers say.

So here’s a travel guide:

If you’ve had an orthopedic, chest, abdominal, neurological, or ear, nose, and throat procedure, wait 10 to 14 days before flying, advises lead author Mark Gendreau, MD, at Tufts University School of Medicine.

An uncomplicated appendectomy or laparoscopic procedure? Schedule your flight at least five days later.

On board, stay hydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol, stretch your calves during the flight by walking the aisles or doing seated exercises, and wear compression stockings.

See more travel tips.