Many surgical patients can benefit from leg elevation. Here are a few examples.
First, surgical patients are at risk for developing a blood clot in their veins after surgery. This is called a Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT). Surgery increases our risk of developing a DVT because after surgery we are in bed a lot and are not active. This results in stagnant venous blood flow which is one of the major risk factors for DVT. Leg elevation lowers our risk of developing a DVT because it increases venous flow.
Leg elevation also reduces pain and swelling after surgery on our feet or legs. Also, reduced swelling results in better healing because swelling makes it more difficult for the proteins and nutrients to get to the cells that need them.
Visit the Leg Elevation Classroom to learn more about how the proteins and nutrients get from our blood to the cells that need them.
Many surgical patients are at risk for developing lymphedema after surgery. Lymphatic vessels are tiny microscopic vessels that collect fluid from the soft tissue in our legs and eventually empty this fluid back into a vein in the chest. The groin region and pelvic region have lots of lymphatic channels. Incisions heal by forming scar tissue which obstructs these lymphatic channels. Radiation therapy for cancer in these areas can also obstruct lymphatic flow.
Some examples of operations that can result in lymphedema I include: 1) Coronary Artery Bypass (because the vein is taken from the leg); 2) knee replacement surgery; 3) hip replacement surgery; 4) surgery in the pelvis for gynecologic cancer, prostate cancer, or colon cancer; 5) lymph node biopsy in the groin. Leg elevation reduces the swelling associated with lymphatic obstruction.
Visit the Leg Elevation Classroom to learn more about the lymphatic vessels.