Flying with Varicose Veins

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Varicose veins are a common issue among adults, and the symptoms that go hand in hand with vein disorders can be grueling to deal with each day. Varicose veins are most often characterised by the bulging, darkened, or twisted veins that are noticeable beneath the skin’s surface. Not only are they a cosmetic concern for many people, but varicose veins also cause pain and discomfort, ranging from mild to severe. 

Living with varicose veins may mean managing swelling and itching at or around the varicose vein site, heaviness in the legs or feet, or aching that does not subside easily. Although these issues can be handled while at home or work, there may be more significant concerns for those flying with varicose veins. It is essential to understand the dangers of flying as it relates to varicose veins and the steps you can take to prevent issues in the air. 

The Dangers of Flying with Vein Issues

According to a vein specialist at Radiance Varicose Vein Clinic, the dangers of flying with varicose veins are mostly connected to why varicose veins occur in the first place. When valve failure takes place within the veins of the legs, blood pools in the body instead of flowing back to the heart as it is meant to do. This creates vein wall breakdown, leading to the swelling and bulging often seen with varicose veins. When taking flight, the change in cabin pressure may result in adverse effects on individuals with varicose veins, connected to the potential for a blood clot. 

For those who have been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis or DVT, flying with varicose veins may be far more dangerous than when broken vein walls are the only issue at hand. This is because DVT is a condition where blood clots form deep within the veins of the legs. The change in pressure on a flight could cause a blood clot to dislodge and move to other areas of the body, such as the heart of the lungs. Devastating outcomes may result, including a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism. 

Having varicose veins does not mean one also has DVT, but the combination of these conditions could mean trouble with flying. Varicose veins may form clots in the legs because blood is not flowing correctly throughout the body, and flying increases the risk of a clot moving elsewhere. To ensure you are safe while in the air, with DVT, varicose veins, or both, consult a doctor first. If they give the green light for traveling by plane, consider taking extra precaution by following the steps below.

Tips for Flying Safely

If you are at risk for DVT or have varicose veins, flying may be both stressful and uncomfortable. One of the simplest steps to take to reduce the chances of complications with varicose veins is to pack compression stockings for the trip. Compression stockings are knee-length socks and add gentle pressure to the legs and ankles, intended to boost blood flow during idle periods. Wearing compression stockings on a flight that is more than a few hours long can help improve circulation while seated. 

In addition to compression stockings, experts suggest getting up and moving around during a flight when possible. Planning to stretch the legs and walk up and down the aisle every half hour to an hour keeps the blood flowing, especially on a long journey. 

The Need for Treatment

Flying with varicose veins is not inherently dangerous, but if you are also at risk for DVT, certain precautions need to be taken to keep yourself safe and healthy. Compression stockings and scheduled breaks for walking and stretching at the best tools to have at your disposal. It is also recommended to discuss with your doctor ways to minimise the potential complications of varicose veins while traveling, before hitting the skies. 

However, it is just as crucial to consider treatment options that reduce varicose vein symptoms or eliminate varicose veins altogether moving forward. Several treatment options exist, including non- and minimally-invasive solutions, so know that there are choices for managing varicose veins in a more permanent way. 

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