Avoid Foot Balloons Post-Flight with Compression Socks – Part 1 of 2

Foot balloons and cankles have been for me synonymous with flying for far too long.  Well, to be honest the cankles might be a part of my look anyways.  In the past couple of months, though, just like that, I decided to stop the madness.  No more swollen puffy feet and ankles post flight for me, and I will not to go back.


It began with my 3rd varicose vein surgery.

I’m a poster child for varicose veins, inherited honestly from both sides of my family.  Lucky me.  I even learned that a great-grandmother on my father’s side actually met her end due to a (very) bad reaction to medications post vein surgery many many moons ago.

Anyways, after my 3rd go at correcting this problem I had in my possession a couple of medical grade (and style – blech) compression stockings – beige, open-toed, thigh length.  These had been gathering dust for years since my prior surgeries.

An Experiment

Facing a heavy travel itinerary I wondered what would happen if I just ceased to care what it looked like to wear these suckers on my next trip, and then evaluate the results upon landing.  Well, I wore a long skirt, so most of the compression stockings were covered.  The trip passed smoothly and, lo and behold, there was no swelling upon landing!  Yea! No 24-hour time delay before my feet deflated.  I was immediately hooked to the outcome, if not the fashion statement, and have for the past few flights worn these things with great results upon landing.

As mentioned, attractive, they are not.

And another thing – if I do not wedge myself into them just right, their grip onto the backs of my knees feels like an industrial stapler was holding them in place there.  Boo.

I think a knee-high version would eliminate this pinching problem.

So now I’m shopping and am thrilled to discover that there is apparently quite the market for travel (compression) socks, not only for athletes and nurses, but for frequent flyers like myself.

Medical Benefit of Wearing Compression Socks In Flight

The medical benefit to wearing compression socks during flights of 3 hours or more – the length at which foot swelling tends to begin – is the prevention of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) due to the pressure the socks apply to your lower legs and feet which keeps the blood circulating throughout the flight as it should.

Why do you care about this?

You care because 1-2 Americans out of every 1,000 flyers will experience DVT each year, with a blood clot that detaches from the leg area and drifts upward toward the lungs.  While it’s a small risk, the result could even be death.  Compression socks can reduce the risk of this serious travel bummer.

For me though, eliminating post flight foot balloons is reason enough to incorporate this habit into my healthy flying protocol.


I’m planning to test out 3 attractive knee-high brands and will post the results here in the near future.

Until then, however, I’m holding onto my old utilitarian compression stockings.  While neither convenient nor fashionable, they most certainly get the job done.


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