How to decrease the risk of thrombosis after surgery

Thrombosis is the formation of clots or thrombi within blood vessels, preventing blood flow. Any surgery can increase the risk of developing thrombosis, as it is common to stay still for a long time both during and after the procedure, which impairs circulation. 

Therefore, to avoid thrombosis after surgery, it is recommended to start taking short walks right after the doctor’s release, wearing elastic stockings for about 10 days or even when it is possible to walk normally, moving your legs and feet while is lying down and taking anticoagulant drugs to prevent clots, like Heparin, for example.

Although it may appear after any surgery, the risk of thrombosis is greater in the postoperative period of complex surgery or that takes more than 30 minutes, such as surgery on the chest, heart or abdomen, such as bariatric surgery, for example. In most cases, thrombi form in the first 48 hours until about 7 days after surgery, causing redness in the skin, heat and pain, being more common in the legs. Check out more symptoms to identify thrombosis faster in  Deep Venous Thrombosis .

To prevent thrombosis after surgery, your doctor may indicate:

1. Walk as soon as possible

The operated patient should walk as soon as he has little pain and is not at risk of the scar breaking, as the movement stimulates blood circulation and reduces the risk of thrombi. Usually, the patient can walk at the end of 2 days, but it depends on the surgery and the doctor’s guidance.

2. Put on elastic stockings

The doctor may recommend the use of compression compression stockings even before surgery, which should be used for a period of about 10 to 20 days, until the movement of the body throughout the day returns to normal and it is already possible to perform activities physical, removed only for body hygiene.

The most used stocking is the medium compression stocking, which exerts a pressure of about 18-21 mmHg, which is able to compress the skin and stimulate the venous return, but the doctor may also indicate the high compression elastic stocking, with pressure between 20-30 mmHg, in certain cases of higher risk, such as people with thick or advanced varicose veins, for example. 

Elastic stockings are also advisable for anyone who has problems with venous circulation, bedridden people, who undergo treatments restricted to the bed or who have neurological or orthopedic diseases that hinder movement. Find out more details on what they are for and when to use compression stockings .

3. Raise your legs

This technique facilitates the return of blood to the heart, which prevents the accumulation of blood in the legs and feet, in addition to reducing swelling in the legs.

When possible, the patient is advised to move his feet and legs, bending and stretching about 3 times a day. These exercises can be guided by the physiotherapist while still in the hospital. 

4. Using anticoagulant drugs

Remedies that help prevent the formation of clots or thrombi, such as injectable Heparin, which can be indicated by the doctor, especially when it is a time-consuming surgery or that will require a long rest, such as abdominal, thoracic or orthopedic.

The use of anticoagulants can be indicated even when it is possible to walk and move the body normally. These remedies are also usually indicated during a hospital stay or during a treatment in which the person needs to rest or lie down for a long time. Better understand the role of these drugs in what anticoagulants are and what they are for . 

5. Massage your legs

Performing a leg massage every 3 hours, with almond oil or any other massage gel, is also another technique that stimulates venous return and hinders blood accumulation and clot formation.

In addition, motor physiotherapy and other procedures that may be indicated by the doctor, such as electrical stimulation of calf muscles and intermittent external pneumatic compression, which is done with devices that stimulate blood movements, especially in people who are unable to make movements of the legs, like comatose patients.

Who is most at risk of having a thrombosis after surgery

The risk of having a thrombosis after surgery is greater when the patient is over 60 years old, mainly bedridden elderly people, after accidents or strokes, for example.

However, other factors that can increase the risk of having a deep vein thrombosis after surgery are:

  • Surgery performed with general or epidural anesthesia;
  • Obesity;
  • Smoking;
  • Use of contraceptives or other hormone replacement therapies;
  • Having cancer or having chemotherapy;
  • Be a carrier of type A blood;
  • Having heart disease, such as heart failure, varicose veins or blood problems like thrombophilia;
  • Surgery performed during pregnancy or shortly after delivery;
  • If there is a generalized infection during surgery.

When the formation of a thrombus occurs due to surgery, there is a high chance of developing pulmonary embolism, since the clots slow or obstruct the passage of blood and become lodged in the lungs, a situation that is serious and causes a risk of death.

In addition, swelling, varicose veins and brown skin on the legs can also occur, which in more severe cases, and can lead to gangrene, which is the death of cells due to lack of blood.

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