Compression stockings are snug-fitting pieces of clothing for the legs. They look similar to other socks or stockings, but their unique design puts gentle pressure on your ankles and legs. Compression therapy is likely to be recommended if you have varicose veins or another type of venous insufficiency.
How Compression Stockings Help Veins
Healthy veins have a series of valves that help push blood upwards to the heart. This promotes good circulation in the feet and legs. When someone has a vein disorder, however, leg valves don’t always work correctly. Without the needed pressure, blood can start to pool in the feet, triggering the pain, discomfort, and aesthetic issues related to varicose veins.
Compression stockings assist with blood flow. They can reduce the size of your veins, which increases upward pressure and improves circulation. Compression stockings can help with the symptoms of vein disease but do not stop the progression of the disease. Here are some of the ways this type of vein treatment can help:
Heavy or aching legs:
- Compression socks give your legs a rest. That way, they feel lighter and more comfortable throughout the day.
- Some people who have varicose veins experience pain, swelling, burning, or itching. By preventing blood from pooling, compression stockings can alleviate these symptoms.
- If you usually have poor circulation in your toes, feet, ankles, or legs, this type of therapy may improve things significantly.
- With good circulation, your heart doesn’t have to work hard to get blood to your tissues. This can reduce feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness.
In addition to these benefits, compression stockings support your veins and may reduce the appearance of spider veins and varicose veins. They also help prevent serious conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and leg ulcers.
Types of Compression Stockings
There are three main categories of compression stockings, along with countless individual styles. Your doctor may prescribe knee-length or thigh-length stockings with the right amount of pressure, depending on your needs.
Graduated compression socks are usually the ideal choice for vein treatments. They start tighter and get looser toward the top of your leg.
Patients who aren’t able to be very mobile may benefit from specialized anti-embolism stockings. This type of compression therapy is usually firmer than other stockings for vein treatments. It provides extra protection against DVT when physical activity is challenging.
Nonmedical stockings (also called support hosiery) are general compression garments that focus on giving tired legs a rest. Athletes, pilots, and other people with aching legs may experience some benefits, but these are more for everyday use and prevention rather than part of the vein treatment process.
Why Are Compression Stockings Important?
As people age, the risk of developing a vein condition becomes more likely. The walls of veins start to weaken, making it harder for them to transport blood correctly. Compression stockings can provide vein support. This is especially important following vein treatments, such as endovenous laser ablation or sclerotherapy for varicose veins.
Compression stocking can help with the symptoms of vein disease before treatment. We encourage patients to use them before treatment and one to two weeks after endovenous laser ablation treatment. One of the most important roles of compression socks is to prevent blood clots from forming. People who have chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) are at risk of DVT and pulmonary embolism, which are life-threatening. Because compression stockings promote healthy blood flow in the feet and legs, they can significantly reduce DVT risk. Wearing them may literally save your life.
FAQs for Compression Stockings
Here are the answers to several common questions about compression stockings. This information is general. It’s always a good idea to ask your doctor for more specific recommendations.
Do You Have To Wear Compression Stockings All the Time?
- Compression stockings are designed to be worn during the day. You should take them off before going to bed at night. When you get out of bed in the morning, put them on again.
Why Do Compression Stockings Require Professional Fitting?
- Each pair of compression stockings needs to fit your legs perfectly. Such a complex measuring process always requires the expertise of a vein specialist.
- The stockings have to apply just the right amount of pressure to work properly, not too much or too little. In fact, the pressure varies in different parts of the garment. The bottom part near your ankles needs to squeeze your legs more firmly than the area closer to your calves.
Who Should Wear Compression Stockings?
- Individuals with varicose veins or CVI should wear compression stockings. People who are at risk for DVT, such as someone recovering from surgery, also need them. If your job requires you to spend extended periods of time standing or sitting, you may want compression socks for extra support.
Learn More About Professional Compression Treatments
If you have varicose veins or another type of circulatory issue, there are many vein treatments available that can help. At Northern Illinois Vein Clinic, we have caring professionals who want to help you find relief. Find out more about high-quality compression stockings and other options that really work by contacting us right away. You can also reach us by calling (779) 696-8346.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Albina Gavrilovic