How soon can a person be allowed to board a flight after a surgery?

Flying after surgery could put the body at risk of a potentially deadly condition

an airplane taking off the runway
Image used for representational purposes only

Travelling is part of the life of many people. The rise of social media and YouTube promoted tourism across the world, leading to a significant increase in the number of people flying from one place to another.

There are many other reasons for people to visit places. It can be because of business, a family celebration or watching a concert among others.

However, there can be bad days that will ruin your excitement. Early this morning you were just riding your bike as part of your daily routine and 30 minutes later you are in the hospital because of a major injury.

Another bad news is that you should be flying out of the country in 15 days. The doctor required a surgery that would prevent you from travelling to give time for your recovery.

But should it take weeks or months before you can book a flight again? Doctors commonly recommend that patients avoid travelling for a month after surgery.

That is because of the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots. Flying or being on the road for long hours could cause a clot in the deep veins of the leg that can be deadly.

The blood may travel from the leg to the lungs and create a blockage called pulmonary embolism. Patients are at highest risk of having blood clots in the first four weeks after surgery, Stuart Seides, a cardiologist from the MedStar Heart Institute, told The Washington Post.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Ashutosh Jadhao, a senior resident doctor from the surgery department of Nagpur Medical College, said, “The problem of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can occur if a person travels too soon after surgery. It is advised that a person should make a complete recovery and resume normal duties before any air travel. Air travel should be avoided after major surgeries.”

He added, “It also depends on what type of surgery was performed. Minor surgeries require few days to recover from, while major surgeries may need a longer recovery time period.”

However, DVT rarely occurs during travel. The World Health Organization estimates that people experience the blood clot in one in every 6,000 trips.

The National Health Service recommends that a person rests for one to 10 days following the surgery. But it depends on the procedure and suggested time of recovery by the doctors.

Airlines also have their own regulations for people who went under the knife before their flight. It is important to contact the airline before you fly.

How travelling puts you at risk of clots


When people move to places, they commonly forget to consume the right amount of liquid. This makes dehydration a common traveller’s problem.

Aside from poor flow of fluid in the body, dehydration can also trigger clotting. Drinking less water combined with the low humidity on planes increases the risk.

Coffee and beer

Caffeinated coffee and other alcoholic drinks are natural diuretics. Taking them more than water can also lead to dehydration.


As people limit their movements while recovering from surgery, a long flight makes a person sedentary because of staying for hours seated that increases the risk of blood clots.

Source: Medical Daily