Flying after joint replacement surgery- things to keep in mind after an arthroplasty

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While it might seem scary, joint replacement surgery is one of the most common and most successful interventions in modern medicine. Joint surgery, or arthroplasty, typically involves replacing a damaged joint with an artificial one. Is this restrictive? Can you fly with an artificial joint? The simple answer is yes, on the condition that certain precautions are taken. 

Important things about flying after joint replacement surgery

This risk of DVT and damage to soft body recovery tissue is a serious concern if you fly too soon after joint replacement surgery. Make sure to take the necessary precautions if you have travel plans. An air ambulance is a safe way to travel since it is fitted with medical equipment with doctors and paramedics on board.  

What exactly is a joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty)?

Joint surgery is the removal of a damaged joint from the body and replacing it with an artificial one that is man-made. This is a prosthesis that can be either of metal, ceramic or heavy-duty plastic and it is designed to function like a natural joint.


The most common types of arthroplasty are hip and knee replacement. However, the following joints can also be replaced: 

  • Ankles
  • Elbows
  • Shoulders
  • Toes 
  • Wrists

In most cases, a total joint replacement surgery is required but in some cases, a partial one, which means replacing only part of the joint that has been damaged can be performed. 

Risks of flying after joint replacement surgery 

The risks after a joint replacement surgery can be pretty serious if the proper precautions are not taken. These are: 

  • Blood clots
  • Infections
  • Injury or damage to nerves surrounding the replaced joint
  • Dislocation

How do these affect flying? 

Flying right after surgery can be potentially dangerous because your body needs a certain amount of time to heal and recover from the surgery. Most of the complications are due to the strains and prolonged immobilization linked to flying. 

Damaging of soft tissues 

To begin with, flying is a strenuous and tiring activity. The trip to and back to the airport, the waiting, the boarding process and sitting for a long amount of time can be damaging to soft body recovery tissues which will prolong the recovery time and may cause further complications. 

DVT- Deep Vein Thrombosis 

Having to remain immobile for a long amount of time and the small leg space in the plane cabin increases the risk of blood clots, which is further heightened after surgery. Known as DVT, this is particularly dangerous if the blood clot travels to the lungs. 

Deep vein thrombosis


A joint replacement surgery will cause you to be stiff, swollen or sore for the following weeks. These might be further exacerbated by the act of taking a commercial plane. 

Precautions to take when flying after joint replacement surgery

However, flying with an artificial joint is not impossible if the appropriate precautions are taken. 

What are some safety tips to fly after a joint replacement surgery: 

  • Wait for three to six weeks before flying: Some doctors recommend waiting until the use of a mobility device is not necessary before traveling
  • Limit your travel plans to short flights only in the case of a recent joint replacement surgery
  • Ask for your doctor’s approval before flying: a fit-to-fly authorization from a medical professional is necessary
  • Inform the relevant authorities in advance before the screening to avoid complications 
  • Try to obtain additional legroom in the plane: if possible, fly in business class
  • Move around the cabin frequently: to promote blood circulation
  • Drink plenty of water: to promote good hydration and blood circulation
  • Wear compression socks 
  • Take blood thinner medications to reduce the risks of developing a blood clot 

A medical escort when flying after joint replacement surgery

A safe way to travel on a commercial flight if you require medical assistance while flying is with a medical escort. However, this option is subject to certain conditions and is not always possible for all patients. 

A medical escort is a medical professional that accompanies the patient onboard the plane and oversees his condition throughout the flight. At Medical Air Service, we make sure to choose a professional whose personality suits the patient to ensure a pleasant flight. Nonetheless, his duties are not restricted to that. He will provide assistance while boarding and also offer emergency medical care in case of a complication. 

ambulance jet

An air ambulance for flying after joint replacement surgery

A safer way for patients who have just gone through joint replacement surgery to travel is via an air ambulance. This is a medical plane that has been designed specifically for patients. This means that it comes with medical equipment and doctors and paramedics on board and is capable of transporting even ICU patients. 

As such, even if you have just underwent joint replacement surgery, you can fly safely on one of our air ambulances as long as you are fit to fly. We can equip our air ambulances with equipment or doctors according to your condition. As such, you can rest assured that in case of a medical emergency, you will be taken care of. 

What are some advantages of our air ambulances?

  • They are equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment
  • A doctor and a paramedic are onboard the flight
  • It is a private jet
  • It can usually be deployed within two days of the booking 
  • It operates from any country in the world

Contact us if you need to fly after joint replacement surgery

In case you have just gone through joint replacement surgery and you need to travel, get in touch with us. We will advise you on the best option for you, either a medical escort or an air ambulance, depending on your situation after a free consultation session.

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