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When can you fly after DVT?

Written by: Russell Wallace | Travel Insurance Expert
Last updated: 23 November 2023 | Created: 25 August 2017
When you can fly after having DVT: Middle age woman looking out of plane window

When you can fly after having DVT: Middle age woman looking out of plane window

Can you fly after DVT?

Up to one in every 1000 people are affected by Deep Vein Thrombosis in the UK each year and, of those, many fly without any issue. There are ways in which you can make travelling with DVT much more comfortable, such as extra leg space, compression socks, drinking plenty of water, and minor exercise when possible.

Should you speak to a Doctor about flying after DVT?

According to the NHS, even if you’ve had DVT recently and are on medication for it, ‘your risk of developing DVT is low and there is no reason why you can’t travel, including long haul.’ However, they do recommend that you speak to your consultant and get the all clear before booking your flights.

The definitive answer of whether you can fly after DVT varies from person-to-person. Depending on how many clots you had; how bad they were; and the reasons why DVT developed. Your doctor may recommend that you don’t fly until after you’ve seen a specialist.

Some doctors will recommend that you take blood thinning medication such as warfarin before flying. These drugs will reduce your blood’s ability to clot and prevent existing clots from getting bigger.

Tips for when you can fly after having DVT

If your doctor does give you the all clear to fly, here are some extra precautions you can take:

Wear Compression Stockings

It is one of the first things your doctor will recommend when flying with DVT and will help to improve blood flow in the legs. Compression stockings can be bought at the airport – some airlines even hand them out for free.

Buy seats with more leg room

If you have a history of DVT, you’re more likely to get it again if your legs are cramped during a long-haul journey. If it is not possible to buy a seat with more leg room, request an aisle seat. These typically have more leg room and will still allow you to stretch your legs out more.

Comfortable clothes

When travelling, try to wear loose-fitting; comfortable clothes.Tight clothes can sometimes restrict circulation of the blood.

Drink plenty of water

Not keeping hydrated could lead to your blood volume increasing, which leads to thickening and increases the chances of worsening your DVT. It’s also important to avoid excessive alcohol consumption whilst travelling. As you may be aware, this can also lead to dehydration!

Exercise in your seat

This doesn’t mean that you have to start rattling about in your chair. Simply moving your legs and flexing your feet can improve blood flow throughout the lower half of your body, lowering the risk of making your DVT worse. Also, try not to cross your legs while you’re sitting.

Take regular walking breaks

When you fly after DVT, it’s important that you take regular breaks from sitting with your legs bent for a sustained period of time. Where possible, try to avoid storing baggage on the floor where your feet are. Doing so can often lead to a restriction in your movements.