DVT, varicose veins and flying

I have varicose veins - is it safe for me to fly?

businessmen in airplane

People with varicose veins are at a higher risk for developing DVT or pulmonary embolism during a long flight

People with varicose veins — both men and women — are at a slightly higher risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) during a long flight, says Dr. Thomas Wakefield, head of Vascular Surgery at the University of Michigan.

In addition to encouraging people to be aware of the link between DVT, varicose veins and flying, Dr. Wakefield offers the following tips for anyone flying or traveling long distances in a car, bus or train (4 or more hours):

  • Wear compression stockings
  • Get up and move about whenever possible
  • Periodically pump your legs up and down while seated
  • Drink lots of fluids and wear loose-fitting clothes that do not restrict blood flow
  • Try not to cross your legs
  • Take an aspirin before traveling
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages during travel

“Any and all methods of reducing your risk of DVT are important,” says Dr. Wakefield. “If you plan to travel and have concerns about your risks of getting a blood clot, be sure to talk with your doctor or a healthcare professional.”