Lymphedema and air travel

Last Modified: February 2, 2003

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Two years ago I had a masectomy and a sentinal node biopsy which removed 7 lymph nodes. I am planning a trip in a few months and will be on a plane for 20 hours. Does this trip increase my chances of lyphedema? Are there any precautions I should take? 

Answer

Lora Packel MS, PT, Coordinator of Cancer Therapy Services for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

There is scant literature to determine the actual risk of developing lymphedema during extended air travel. It may be of benefit to meet with a lymphedema specialist to discuss a compression sleeve since your travel is > 20 hours.

Other recommendations to follow during air travel:

  • Use light suitcases with wheels
  • Use your unaffected arm to carry luggage
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes
  • Get up frequently during the flight
  • Perform simple arm and leg exercises during the flight
  • Avoid salty airplane food! Order special items or carry low-salt snacks

When you reach your destination:

  • Use sunblock to avoid sunburn
  • Use citronella candles to help avoid insect bites
  • Wear foot covering on the beach

Blogs

The Best of the Breast
by OncoLink Editorial Team
October 03, 2014

Is Ayurveda the Answer to Women’s Health Issues?
by The 4Wholeness Team
September 01, 2015