Traveling after Surgery

Many of our patients are from Alaska or other parts of the Northwest and are anxious to travel home after surgery. Other patients are simply interested in traveling to a wedding, graduation, or on a well-earned vacation! We did surgery to enhance your quality of life but do want you to follow some simple guidelines.

Concerns with traveling

  • Our main concern with traveling is the risk of blood clot.  Flying on an airplane limits one's ability to move around. Stagnant blood flow increases the risk of blood clot.
  • Additionally, we want to be sure you maintain the physical therapy needed after your surgery.
  • After shoulder or elbow surgery, you will be unable to carry any luggage with your operative extremity and risk other people bumping your operative extremity in the uncontrolled environment of a busy airport.

Minimizing your risk of blood clot

  • We prefer for you to defer flying until at least two weeks after your operation and we have seen you at your post operative appointment and feel that you are healing well.
  • If you are doing well at 2 weeks, you may consider flying, especially on shorter trips (<2 hr flying time).
    • Please continue to take your blood thinner (likely Aspirin 325 twice daily) during your travels.
    • Get up at least one an hour and just walk the cabin.
    • Stay hydrated.
    • Do ankle pumps (see below) while in your seat and fire your quadricep muscles.

Continue your exercises

  • While you are traveling, please continue your daily exercises.  If you've had a total hip, this may simply mean to continue to progress the minutes you walk a day.  If you've had a total knee or shoulder/elbow surgery, you will need to follow the excercises given to you by your physician or physical therapist.

Metal detectors

  • Usually patients with joint replacements will set off metal detectors.  It is reasonable for you to inform the TSA screening agent at the airport that you have had a joint replacement; however, you will still require screening and need to follow the directions of the screening agent.  For more information, click here.