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FLight risk

Aeroplane soaring through clouds in the sky

Easter is around the corner and for many this brings with it a welcome chance to escape the daily-grind and enjoy a well-earned break abroad. However, if you are recovering from an operation, it is important to be aware of how this can impact upon your travel plans and when you should be wary of flying, for health reasons.

Professor Tony Kochhar, Consultant Shoulder and Upper Limb Surgeon shares his advice about flying post-op and what precautions to take.

“Generally, flying post-op is safe as long as patients are aware of the risks and how to manage them.

“For my patients, I normally advise them to wait at least a week after an operation to allow for any side-effects from the general anaesthetic (if they have had one) to wear off. This also ensures they have had time to become comfortable in a sling and for pain to be at a manageable level.

“There is a heightened risk of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) after surgery. The chance of this occurring varies from patient to patient and should be discussed in advance with the patient’s operating surgeon, or GP.

“Measures to help mitigate the risk include, staying well hydrated all day on the day of the flight and for the following 24 hours. It is good to keep active during the flight by moving around on the plane and performing small elbow, wrist and hand movements, as shown by the post-op physical therapist. According to the patient’s medical history, for some it can also help to take an Aspirin, if recommended by your Consultant or GP.

“Generally the risk of DVT after shoulder and upper limb surgery is low (less than 1%*) but it’s important patients are aware of it.

“In addition to this, the general post-op precautions still apply - many patients forget that they are still recovering from an operation when they are in sunnier climates!

Wishing anyone travelling this weekend while recovering from an operation safe and happy holidays!”

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