If you are undergoing surgery, it’s important to understand the danger of DVT. Here are a few ways to avoid blood clots after surgery.
One of the major concerns of anyone who undergoes surgery is the development of blood clots. This is one of the most valid concerns as almost all patients have a higher chance of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) a few weeks after the surgery. It is most common in the leg area that is why most surgeons encourage patients to walk lightly around the room after surgery. DVT can also develop in any other part of the body and can be hazardous. Sometimes the blood clot can move to the lung, which is proven to be fatal. Some surgeons also use the term Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) because it is closely related to DVT.
Why Do Blood Clots After Surgery Form?
The most common reason behind the formation of blood clots post-surgery is inactivity. During and after the operation, patients stay in bed in the same position for an extended duration. As you stop moving, blood circulation is compromised, leading to clots. During the first 10 days post-surgery, the risk of clot formation is very high, but you will be at risk for the entirety of three months after the surgery.
Additional factors which contribute to blood clots after surgery are:
- Smoking – That is why most surgeries require you to quit smoking for four weeks before and after the surgery
- If you have had DVT in the past
- People who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk
- Having family members who have DVT
- Any blood or veins related disease/disorder
- Old age
- Use of certain medication especially hormonal meds
- Any other serious illness
Preventing Blood Clots After Surgery at the Hospital
Generally, your healthcare provider will take one/all of the following measures to prevent the formation of blood clots while you are at the hospital.
Most likely, your health care provider will prescribe an Anticoagulant when you are at the hospital to prevent the formation of blood clots. It can be administered orally, by injections, or via an IV. Some commonly used anticoagulants are rivaroxaban, dabigatran, warfarin, apixaban, heparin, and enoxaparin. In some cases, healthcare providers will not prescribe anticoagulants if it poses a health risk based on your unique condition.
2. Compression Garments
Almost after every kind of surgery, your surgeon will advise you to wear a compression garment. There are different compression garments for different body parts but wearing leg stockings is a must regardless of the surgery. The goal of these compression garments is to keep the blood flowing towards the heart and prevent blood clot formation. They can fight a bit uncomfortable at first, but you will get used to them.
3. Exercise Helps
It is recommended to walk lightly around the hospital room for at least five to ten minutes. If your surgeon allows, you can also do simple exercises while sitting. Regardless of the type of exercise, it will promote circulation, which prevents blood clots.
In certain cases, your healthcare provider will offer a sequential compression device (SCD) and an intermittent pneumatic compression device (IPC) to help with the blood flow. The device includes plastic sleeves that are wrapped around the legs and connected to a pump. The pump puts gentle pressure on your legs and promotes blood flow. Use these devices while sitting or lying down and remove them while walking.
Preventing Blood Clots After Hospital Release
Most people think that they don’t risk developing blood clots when they shift home after the surgery. However, it is simply not the case. You can develop blood clots in the upcoming weeks after the surgery. After your release from the hospital, there is still a risk of developing blood clots after surgery. Because of this, it is recommended to book a stay at a surgery recovery center such as Pearl Recovery Retreat & Wellness. Our experienced Private Duty Nurses will ensure that you are highly taken care of, monitor your risk of blood clots, and provide assistance for a smooth surgery recovery.
1. Foot Rotation Exercise
The easiest and the best thing you can do at home is foot rotation exercise. You can do it while sitting, lying in bed, resting, anytime and anywhere. Rotate the feet clockwise and then anti-clockwise about five times. You can do this exercise every few hours to get the circulation going.
2. Anticoagulant Medicine
If your healthcare provider has prescribed an anticoagulant, it is important to take it till the specified period. Make sure to stick to the instructions given by your doctor, set a reminder on your phone so that you don’t forget to pop it in your mouth.
3. Compression Stockings
Wear compression stockings for at least four to six weeks post-surgery. Do not skip on this step. It is not only a great preventative measure for DVT but also helps with post-surgical swelling.
Based on the recovery timeline of your surgery, it is important to get back to your usual lifestyle as soon as you can. Simply doing home chores goes a long way when it comes to preventing blood clots after surgery. So, move around the house, walk, and you will surely be doing yourself a favor.
5. At Home SCR/IPC
If your healthcare provider allows, you can use SCD and IPC devices for a few hours per day to prevent the formation of clots. It is important to remember that use them while lying down or sitting and always remove the sleeves of these devices while walking. Make sure you adhere to all the instructions given by your doctor.
When to Contact the Surgeon?
If you follow all the instructions given by your surgeon, the risk of blood clot formation will be greatly minimized. However, if you experience any of the following signs, immediately call emergency or your healthcare provider:
- Sudden pain in the chest
- Shortness of breath without any evident cause
- Rapid heart rate
- Sudden sweating
- Dizziness or fainting
- Coughing up blood
- Excessive bleeding
- Pain in the legs
- Swollen legs
- Blood in urine
- Vomiting up blood
- Excessive bleeding from any part of the body
The formation of blood clots after surgery is a prevalent risk that can be fatal. It is important to have a thorough discussion with your surgeon regarding the subject and settle on the steps that will be taken to prevent the condition. If you feel something is wrong, it is wise to contact the healthcare provider immediately. After all, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Isn’t it?
If you are undergoing surgery, contact our team today to learn how we can assist in successful and comfortable surgery recovery.