This is by far one of the most common questions we have to answer when our patients call us for the first time. And we can give no better answer than “it depends”. In this article we are mostly going to talk about flying after a vascular vein removal operation. When talking about air transport we can differentiate two categories as they relate to vascular vein removal procedures: overseas travel and interstate travel.
First of all, it is important to mention that modern vascular vein removal techniques are very different to invasive surgical procedures used to treat varicose veins before. Today patients are treated with a local anesthetic and are usually able to walk out after the procedure and can get back to their everyday lives very fast, mainly because the risk of vein thrombosis is diminutive. But when talking about long haul flights deep vein thrombosis is one of the main reasons why long flights aren’t recommended. With people who keep in shape, the risk is minimal but the concern remains valid for most of our patients.
If your doctor treated your varicose vein problem with EVLT (Endovenous Laser Therapy) we recommend not flying for at least three weeks after the procedure. The main reason is that there is an increased risk of contracting a vein clot or deep vein thrombosis on these long haul trips that usually last longer than four hours. Smokers, women who take contraception pills and patients with weakened immunity are even more at risk. However, there is a small risk of deep vein thrombosis with any passenger on a long haul flight, not just those who’ve had a varicose vein removal operation.
Furthermore, a follow-up appointment is usually scheduled a week or two after the procedure as any complications are likely to manifest by that time. Therefore it is much easier to diagnose and solve them during this period, so patients can board a plane without having to worry about the removed veins causing them any trouble.
If however you absolutely can’t postpone a long haul trip within the first three weeks, you should contact your vein doctor so they can prescribe a preventative regime, including wearing compression stockings, stretching your legs during the flight and taking in plenty of water. Additionally, patients are advised to avoid alcohol because it dehydrates the body. Finally, people with a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis are usually given blood thinning shots.
As for interstate travels that usually last less than four hours, patients can take them within one or two weeks after they’ve had the procedure as long as they follow the same rules mentioned above. Before any trip you should see if your travel insurance covers treatment for complications after a varicose vein removal procedure.
If you have a trip on your schedule, try to book an appointment with your vein doctor so you have enough time to recuperate. If you can avoid taking a long haul flight three or four weeks after your treatment do so. But if the flight cannot be postponed contact your doctor for further advice and preventive measures.