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Flying after hip replacement surgery

AllClear Team
Last updated 29 March 2021
How Long After Hip Replacement Can I Fly? Grandmother at the airport with her granddaughter

COVID-19 travel regulations for those living with a hip replacement

Hip problems are no surprise when you consider the pressure we put them under over a lifetime! But it still might surprise you that a whopping 80,000 people have hip replacements each year in just England and Wales.

Living with hip problems or having experienced a hip replacement shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying a holiday. However, following the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important that you follow advice on how to stay safe and keep up-to-date with the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

This guide aims to provide you with information about flying after a hip replacement as well as some useful COVID-19 travel-related resources to help you travel with confidence.

COVID-19 related travel guides

Latest travel information on air bridges, the FCO guidance and quarantine
Latest flying rules from Government, BA, and Ryanair
AllClear Coronavirus help centre

When is it safe for you to fly after a hip replacement?

The good news is, as early as a week after your hip replacement surgery, you could take a short flight.

However, a long haul flight isn’t recommended by the NHS during the first 3 months after the procedure. That’s because long haul flights can:

  • Increase discomfort in your hip and disrupt its healing
  • Restrict blood flow due to lack of movement
  • Cause you to become dehydrated in air cabins which lack humidity

So what are the risks of flying after a hip replacement?

Flying after a hip replacement can mean that you are at greater risk of having deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

What’s a DVT? Its a type of blood clot which develops within a deep vein in the body, usually in the lower legs.

Aside from these medical concerns, there’s also the logistical issue of getting around the airport before your flight and roaming freely at your destination.

So, consider the following tips – recommended by medical professionals – to minimise your risk of flying after a hip replacement…

Talk to your Doctor before you fly

Flying after a hip replacement can have it’s complications, so it’s best to book an appointment to see your doctor before you go.

If your doctor believes you’re particularly at risk of developing a clot after your surgery, it may be that you’re prescribed blood-thinning medication for during your flight.

Also, if your new hip is causing you some discomfort, make sure you have enough pain relief medication for the duration of your trip.

This would also be a good opportunity to ask your doctor any questions you have about your trip. Such as:

  • Are you fit to travel? This is essential to any medical claims being valid on your travel insurance
  • Are there any activities you should avoid?

Managing your hip replacement at the airport

Flying after a hip replacement can come with difficulties. The best tip for managing your hip replacement at the airport is simple, don’t be shy to ask for help if you need it!

Major airports can be rather large and simply walking to your gate can become a strenuous task after a hip replacement – especially if you’re carrying luggage.

Call your airline or tour operator in advance and you might be surprised with how much mobility assistance they can provide. They could have a wheelchair ready on arrival and a possibly fast track of queues.

Being ready for your flight

Due to COVID-19, there are now a few more essential items you’ll need to pack in addition to your usual luggage. To stay safe and to protect others you’ll need to bring with you the following:

A face covering

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, you are now expected to wear a face mask in public spaces. Click here for more information on face coverings.

Antibacterial gel

Washing your hands is one of the simplest ways you can protect yourself and others from Coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here for more information on hand washing.

However, when flying it may not always be possible to wash your hands as frequently. Antibacterial gel works in a similar way to soap, inactivating the virus by breaking down the lipid layer.

You’ll need an antibacterial gel that’s at least 60% alcohol concentration. Click here for more information on hand cleansers.

Tips for staying healthy in the air

  • Choose a seat with legroom to improve blood circulation. Pay a little bit extra if needed, or see if informing your airline about your hip replacement works. The airline may even provide you with other benefits like extra pillows or blankets. If you did forget to book that seat with legroom, still try and get an aisle seat!
  • Wear flight socks: also known as compression stockings, they reduce the risk of DVT. But be sure to get the right size, weight and fit for you. And try not to cross your legs!
  • Avoid drinking alcohol: remember that alcohol can dehydrate you too, and avoiding it is key to stopping your blood flow thickening.
  • Massage your muscles: take a tennis ball to massage your leg muscles by pushing it into your thigh and rolling it up and down your leg. Doing so will help promote circulation.
  • Choose the right clothes: that means loose-fitting items to ensure your blood flow is not restricted. This includes your choice of footwear!

During your holiday

Here are a few tips for managing your hip replacement during your holiday…

  • If you need mobility assistance, make the most of any equipment your accommodation provider can offer
  • Is it too soon for long walks? Make the most of bus and boat tours!
  • Enjoy the flop and drop holiday approach more than ever. Consider a lounger by the pool rather than a swim in the ocean, and you might just get used to it!

The next steps

So if you’re getting ready to book that holiday, remember specialist hip replacement travel insurance to help you travel with peace of mind.
After all, the average cost for a medical claim is over £1,300 – but imagine how much the claim cost would be if you needed an emergency air ambulance home from your holiday. For one unfortunate Brit recently, it was a medical bill of £760,000 while visiting America!

An important detail to note about travel insurance for your hip replacement is that you will need to declare the medical condition which caused the need for the operation.

From AllClear, you can select the following as the original medical condition:

What if you’re on a waiting list for another hip replacement?

We ask this question because it can affect your eligibility to get travel insurance.

Some insurers won’t offer cover at all, but fortunately, Waiting List Cover is available from specialist providers. This benefit lets you claim for cancellation of your trip if the surgery date coincides with your holiday.

How to travel with confidence during the pandemic

Find the answers to the most common questions that AllClear policyholders have asked about their travel insurance cover

Article sources:

The information in this blog post is not intended to replace professional medical advice. It is a general overview of a broad medical care topic. Blog posts are not tailored to one person’s specific medical requirements, diagnosis or treatment. If you do notice symptoms or you require medical advice, you should always consult your doctor or healthcare provider to obtain professional medical help. Read through our disclaimer for more information.

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