long haul flight


Im after a bit of advice please.

im not suffering from lymphodema but am going on a long haul flight soon and have heard that this can be a trigger.

is this true? How can i help myself?


Angie had this worry last year when she flew to Australia. She spoke to her BCN, who got her an appt with the LD dept, who dispensed her some preventative ‘clothing’, just in case.


Thanks for that.

i did contact the bcn who said categorically that flying doesnt trigger it. Then i spoke to the local lymphodema clinic who were really helpful with advice about exercising and general care.

Everything i know about the condition and how to avoid it has been picked up from this forum and googled. I didnt have any advice after my op. You would think that there would be more info - lack of joined up thinking again by the nhs.

off to Florida next week - the holiday i dreamed about whilst mid-treatment last year - yipeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Have a great holiday Staco! :0D


Unfortunately your BCN is incorrect. My lymphodema was triggered by a long haul 4 days business trip to San Diego. I had absolutely no idea what was happening to my harm. The American doctor did not have a clue either, however they did a series of test to make sure it was not a blood clot and was allowed to fly home. The bill was very stiff. Thanks god for travel insurance.
Upon return, my gp told me it was lymphodema. After wearing my sleeve daily for about a year; my arms are both the same size. As it is a chronic condition, I am very very careful when I travel. I wear my sleeve on trains, planes and long trips in the car.
I am also very careful when doing housework and gardening but otherwise don’t wear my sleeve every day.
My advice to everyone who has had a mastectomy is to be careful.

Good advice, Vercors. I think anyone who had had a node clearance is at risk.

Moya xx

Hi Staco

My hospital trust considers anyone who has had surgery on the nodes potentially at risk of lymphoedema and offers a group session with a physio from Macmillan. I had 4 nodes sampled as no longer had a nipple on that side and they couldn’t do SNB. She was asked about long haul flights and her attitude was don’t let it put you off but look after yourself. I flew to Delhi last year and made sure I kept the arm slightly elevated and wiggled my fingers from time to time during the flight. I also did the BCC exercises during my holiday as when I am in hot countries my fingers tend to swell anyway.

I got a leaflet about preventative measures, some of it is a bit extreme but better safe than sorry. I made sure my holiday rep knew I mustn’t have injections or a blood pressure cuff on my affected arm, as my OH said if I collapsed he’d be in no state to tell them. Also be careful about sunburn and insect bites, basically anything which might cause an infection and put a strain on the lymphatic system.

One thing which has surprised me from this forum is how differently things happen in different parts of the country. If you want a copy of the leaflet pm me and I’ll scan it for you.

Have a lovely time, you deserve it.


I travel a lot and make sure that I wear my sleeve for flights of more than 4 hours. I haven’t got lymphodema but my lymphodema clinic were happy to fit me with a sleeve for this reason. I also carry an antibiotic with me when I go to more exotic destinations in case I get an infected insect bite or cut - I haven’t needed it yet but you never know!
Have a wonderful holiday!

Hi Anne

Did your GP prescribe the antibiotic or did you get a private prescription? I asked my GP before I went on holiday last year as I was travelling on to a pretty basic destination health-care wise and was refused, and I got the impression it was on cost grounds. I wondered about a private prescription next time.



I got a just in case double dose of anti biotics to take to Dubai last Oct. they were prescribed by my gp, but my lympho nurse suggested which ones would be the most useful for possible cellulitise. It seems as though it up to individual practises. Something I think we are going to be seeing a lot more of I am afraid. Hope you have great time in Florida SCACO.


Hi just to add to what the others have said. 2 yrs ago I was faced with the same quandrary.I had chemo,WLE X2, ANC and rads. Eventually I rang the Lymphoedema Specialist nurse at the Breast Clinic where I was treated. She invited me in for an appt ( no referral as such just me phoning)My arms were measured and were OK but she gave me 2 sleeves and gauntlet glove things 1 to wear on the way out and 1 on the way back ( long haul 9 hr flights)
I also did the BCC exercises and stretched etc during the flight plus lots of water to drink ( think that might be DVT prevention)
My GP also allows me a script for prn a-b which I have on hand for gardening and general use and take on hols too Antiseptic wipes and anti mozzie stuff helps too just in case you get bitten. Not sure if that applies in Florida. Have a lovely holiday J xx

Hi Foxy

My GP prescribed the antibiotics when I explained where I was going to and that the lymphodema nurse had recommended it. The first time was India, I think. I took those tablets to several destinations before they passed the expiry date. I was due to go to Thailand and Cambodia and I was prescribed a second lot. Those have now expired and so I hope the GP will be able to precribe again next time I am planning another similar trip!


I’ve just called my BCN about this.

She initially sounded very dubious about a referral - consulted a leaflet that said that long haul flights may be a risk factor in developing LD, but that there wasn’t any firm medical evidence.

We talked ‘round the houses’ a bit and she is going to do me a referral to the LD clinic - but doesn’t know if it’s going to come through in time.

Watch this space…

I can’t imagine asking my GP for abx ‘just in case’!


I’m just on my way home from the airport after a longhair flight - 2nd return flight for longer than 10 hours in 2 months and away again to the States for work next month . My surgeon and BCN said flying wasn’t a risk… Maybe I’ll check with a lymphoedema nurse to be sure.

I got precautionary anti-bs from my doctor - and glad I did. On my first hol I had 3 mozzie bites (despite lots of repellant) by the end of day 1 and on day 2 I crashed into some coral, had bruises and cuts all up my clearance arm and had to pick out bits of coral with tweezers!! Doh! On this trip the mozzies got me again and one of the bites turned a bit nasty - so I was glad I had some just-in-case anti-bs each time.

Have a wonderful holiday.


Silly predictive text!! X

My Onc also suggested aspirin if you are taking tamoxifen - he said a ‘baby aspirin’ /75mg tablet should be enough- and to take it daily, a few days before the flight to avoid clots. Obviously check with your GP. Bon voyage!

Thanks for all the advice, I’ll press for antibiotics next time I go somewhere exotic. Love the idea of a longhair flight…


I asked my GP about aspirin and he said there wasn’t any evidence to suggest it is helpful…

You are more likely to get a blood clot on Tamoxifen (and this risk is increased on a long-haul flight) - that was what I was referring to - and aspirin helps prevent this. Whether it helps to prevent cancer, or recurrence is another question…!

This forum is a wonderful source of information and support. Aspirin before a flight makes sense to me (on tamoxifen) and also support stockings. Remember to keep your arm mobile to avoid lymphoedema.

Moya xx