Every time you have a cut or bruise, inside or outside your body, your blood clots to help stop the bleeding.
But sometimes, blood clots can harm you, rather than help you. A blood clot can be dangerous if it floats away and gets stuck in blood vessels in your body. When a blood clot gets stuck in an artery or vein, it can block the flow of blood.
After this surgery, one place that clots can form is in the veins of the leg. This is called a deep venous thrombosis, and can occur following many types of surgical procedures. These are more likely in patients who are obese, or do not begin to move around soon after their surgery. It also occurs more frequently in patients who have had a previous blood clot in their legs, so you should let your surgeon know if you have ever had blood clots in your legs. You may be placed in thick stockings to help prevent blood clots in the veins of your legs. If you are at high risk for blood clots, you also may be given blood thinners prior to surgery and after surgery.
In rare cases, blood clots can migrate from blood vessels to your lungs, where they may cause shortness of breath. This kind of clot is called a pulmonary embolus, and they are usually treated with blood thinning medications. In rare cases, they may be fatal.