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What’s on my legs?


Before and after surgery the nurses might help you put on tight fitting stockings. These help to keep blood circulating while you are having your surgery. These stockings are fitted to reduce the threat of a blood clot forming in your legs. We call these clots deep vein thrombosis or DVT.

There are three main triggers of blood clots:

  • Not moving for long periods of time. For example, having to stay on bed rest, or travelling on longs trips without getting up and walking around.
  • A hospital stay for an extended time. More than 60 per cent of all blood clots are caused by this.
  • Surgery, especially hip and knee surgery and surgery for cancer, puts a patient at higher risk.

There are also some other risk factors:

  • Being overweight can increase the chance of developing a clot. You should try to stay active before surgery.
  • Cigarette smoking. You should avoid cigarettes.
  • Using oestrogen based medicines like the oral contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy. Talk to your local doctor before any surgery.
  • Being pregnant or having recently given birth
  • Older age
  • Heart disease
  • A family history of blood clots


If you have been given anti-blood clot stockings, wear them day and night while you are in hospital. You can take them off when you have a shower or bath. Some patients will not be provided with stockings as they can make lower leg conditions worse. Please ask your nurse or doctor if you should be wearing stockings.

Some patients will have a special lower leg (calf) compression device fitted while they are having surgery. This machine will squeeze the feet and lower legs to help keep blood circulating while in surgery and in the days afterwards.

The symptoms of DVT may include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the leg
  • Pain on extending the foot
  • Swelling of the lower leg, ankle and foot
  • Skin that is red and warm

It is very important that you tell us if you notice any of these symptoms.



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