A hip replacement won't prevent you from traveling by air, but it may make the journey uncomfortable. Pressure changes and immobility may cause the joint to swell, especially if it is still healing from the joint replacement surgery. Blood clots that are common after surgery are also something you should be aware of before engaging in air travel. Checking with your doctor before your first post-surgery plane ride is always a good idea, along with a few other considerations.

Time Frame

Doctors advise patients not to travel by air for at least six weeks after undergoing hip replacement surgery; for some patients, this type of travel may be uncomfortable for several months after surgery. Sitting on a plane for long periods of time exacerbates the tightness and discomfort present in the hip while it heals.

Doctor Consultation

Prior to traveling by plane, make an appointment with your general practitioner to discuss your concerns about your knee replacement. Your doctor may recommend an anti-DVT (deep vein thrombosis) shot to reduce your discomfort and risk of DVT in the knee joint during the flight. Your healthcare professional may also recommend stretches to do during the flight.


Some patients recovering from hip-replacement surgery find it helpful to take two aspirin before boarding the plane. Aspirin reduces inflammation or swelling—your hip joint might start to swell from lack of movement—and relieves minor discomfort. Other blood thinner medications may help with this as well.

Security Screening

Inform airport security and the security officers of your hip replacement, especially if you have an aluminum or metal joint that will set off the metal detector. Many airport security checkpoints will have additional screening with a TSA agent or have a body scanner that won’t go off if there’s a metal implant. You’ll be able to go through a separate detector, or an attendant will do a pat-down or scan your body using a hand-held device.

On the Plane

Get up every 15 to 30 minutes to walk around the plane. This helps the hip joint stretch out and loosen up, which reduces the risk of it swelling enough to cause pain. Do some seated stretches throughout the flight, too. You can also wear compression stockings to improve the functionality of blood flow and reduce your risk of blood clots.

If you can afford it, flying business or first class is wise, as you'll have much more room to stretch out. If you can't afford a pricier ticket, choose a seat in the bulkhead (the rows directly behind partitions that separate different classes or the galley from the passenger area). These seats often have more legroom, though plane designs vary, so you should check with the airline. Also be sure to not sit in an exit row if you may not be able to fulfill the duties of assisting an an emergency situation.