How is deep vein thrombosis (DVT) prevented after surgery?

Small doses of blood thinners and getting patients moving around as soon as possible are two ways to prevent blood clots following surgery. Watch this video with vascular surgeon Syed Peeran, MD from Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

In addition to following your healthcare provider's advice, these steps may help reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and its complications while you recover from surgery or injury:

  • Inform your healthcare team about all of the medications you are taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Write them down to help you remember.
  • If you are on regular aspirin therapy, stop taking aspirin according to the schedule recommended by your healthcare provider—usually 10 days to 2 weeks before surgery. Never adjust the dose and timing of your medications without consulting with your doctor.
  • If you have a personal or family history of blood clots or if your healthcare provider has told you that you are at risk for blood clots, make sure all the members of your healthcare team know, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and physical therapists.
  • Get up and walk around as soon as you can, with your doctor's permission.
  • Elevate your legs about 6 inches while in bed recovering.
  • Ask your doctor for leg exercises and stretches you can do every half hour while recovering in bed.
  • As soon as they are allowed, drink fluids after your procedure or injury to avoid dehydration.
  • Refrain from drinking alcohol or smoking, especially before, during, or after the recovery period and for the duration that you'll be off of your feet.

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Calf muscle exercises and blood thinners can help decrease the risk of deep vein thrombosis after surgery.

The best way to prevent deep vein thrombosis after surgery is by early ambulation. Other methods include application if sequential compression devices (SCDs) and ted hose stockings which provide compression of the lower extremities to maintain the circulation. Blood thinners such as heparin, low molecular weight heparin (Lovenox), and thrombin inhibitors (Fragmin) may also be used.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.