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To limit blood loss, the body reacts to injury with raised coagulation factors in the blood – this is the same regardless of whether you suffer an accidental injury or have just had surgery. Unfortunately, this means that there is an increased risk of getting blood clots after surgery, which is amplified by the long periods of inactivity during bed rest and localized damage to the vascular system.
VT (deep vein thrombosis) most commonly occurs if a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the calf muscles or, less often, in the deep veins of the thigh. It can also sometimes affect arms or block other deep veins within the body. If a part, or all, of the clot breaks free and travels in the bloodstream to obstruct arteries in the lungs, this can cause a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism (PE). DVT and PE are often referred to collectively as venous thromboembolism (VTE).
Thrombosis prevention should be carried out as soon as possible after the operation, and even up to weeks afterwards. This is often done at home in consultation with a doctor. To avoid thrombosis after surgery, a combination of anticoagulant medication (such as blood thinners like heparin) and anti-embolism stockings are used. Wearing anti-embolism compression stockings after surgery can help to improve the blood flow and reduce the swelling in the legs. The appropriate length of time to wear these stockings varies from patient to patient. In addition, drinking plenty of liquids and exercising as much as possible can help to decrease the risk.
DVT is often symptomless, but can sometimes cause pain and swelling in the leg. If post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS) occurs, which is a long-term complication of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), patients suffer from chronic pain, swelling, and skin changes in the affected limb. Patients may also develop severe PTS, which can manifest as venous ulcers.
If part, or all, of the clot breaks free and travels in the bloodstream to obstruct arteries of the lung, this can cause a potentially fatal PE. Diagnosis of PE often occurs too late to provide effective treatment.
When you are resting in bed after surgery, your body moves less and blood will flow a lot slower in your deep veins, which increases the likelihood of clots. There are several other reasons why someone would be more at risk of getting blood clots after surgery than others, including:
If you experience one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s best to consult your doctor on what actions to take as soon as possible. However, taking measures like quitting smoking and losing weight are generally advised as healthier steps to reduce your risk of developing DVT after surgery. Performing leg lifts in bed is also a good way to help the flow of blood in your veins. Depending on your medical condition, your doctor will likely prescribe anticoagulants (blood thinners) and anti-embolism or medical compression stockings.
Your doctor will select the appropriate anti-embolism treatment for your medical needs.
JOBST anti-embolism stockings, as well as medical compression stockings, are one such option. Anti-embolism stockings are recommended for counteracting thrombus formation, especially if anticoagulants are contraindicated. Patients at high risk of thrombosis, such as those with a history of DVT, should wear medical compression stockings.