It’s estimated that over 25% of women experience the onset of varicose veins.
This condition is not only a cosmetic concern, but it can cause serious discomfort, and eventually lead to other medical problems.
Compression stockings are one of the most common treatments for varicose veins. However, up to 65% of people who could be helped by compression stockings stop using them, because they do not understand how to use this beneficial treatment.
This guide will help you understand the benefits of compression socks for varicose veins, how to use them, and who they are best for.
Veins are the blood vessels that return blood back to the heart. Veins in our legs have to work against the pull of gravity to keep the blood flowing up to our heart. Leg veins have valves to keep blood from flowing back down the leg, but over time those valves can start to weaken.
When those valves begin to weaken and break down, blood can start to back up in our leg veins and cause them to swell and bulge, creating varicose veins.
These swollen veins can often be seen as purple, knotted-looking areas close to the skin. This distinctive appearance can cause patients to feel self-conscious.
Patients with varicose veins may notice discomfort developing in their legs. Their legs may feel heavy or sore, especially after standing for a long time, and they may notice burning, itching, or swelling in their calves.
How Do Compression Socks Work?
Compression stockings are snug, elastic socks that reach up to the top of the calf (or in some cases up to the thigh or higher). They use graduated compression, meaning that they are tightest at the ankle and less tight at the top of the leg.
The tight elastic of compression socks prevents blood from pooling in the veins so that it flows up normally. This helps circulation and eliminates the sore, swollen feeling that accompanies varicose veins.
Benefits of Compression Socks
Preventing Further Damage
Compression socks stop blood from pooling and stretching veins out, which causes further damages to vein valves. This means they can stop varicose veins from getting worse over time.
Compression stockings are also used to prevent varicose veins from developing in the first place. Many people who work on their feet all day – including nurses, teachers, and postal workers – wear compression socks to support their veins.
Easy to Use
Compression socks don’t require any special maintenance or care. Simply put them on in the morning, wear them under your regular clothing, and take them off at night.
Keeping compression stockings clean is important to make sure they are comfortable. They can be washed along with regular laundry, so there is no extra work to keep them clean.
Patients love that compression socks are a low-maintenance option to start their varicose vein treatment journey.
Relief from the painful symptoms of varicose veins starts as soon as the patient puts on compression stockings. The snug elastic will support veins and start to decrease the heavy, swollen feeling.
Easy to Get
Compression stockings are easy to find and try.
At Veins VIP’s free consultation, patients can get their pair of stockings along with an expert opinion. Veins VIP’s experienced staff can match the patient’s unique needs to their wide range of treatment options.
Most drugstores and supermarkets also carry compression stockings. However, only doctors can prescribe medical-grade compression socks for more severe cases of varicose veins.
How to Choose Compression Socks
If your doctor prescribes compression stockings for medical reasons, the prescription will determine the type and size of the stocking.
However, many people with mild varicose veins choose to purchase compression stockings themselves.
Picking the right pair is important to getting the most from compression sock therapy.
Get the Best Fit
the most important way to make sure compression socks are safe and effective is to make sure they fit properly.
To get the best fit, patients will need to measure their ankle at the thinnest part, and their calf at the thickest part. If your doctor has recommended thigh-high compression socks, you will have to measure your thigh as well.
A well-fitting compression sock will be very snug. This is normal and beneficial since the tightness of the sock provides the compression that varicose veins need.
A compression sock that fits correctly will sit smoothly on the leg, with no bunching or pinching. It’s important that the top of the sock isn’t folded down – this can constrict your veins and make it harder for the blood to flow.
The Right Pressure
Compression socks come in different levels of tightness for different uses. Tightness is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), from the lowest tightness of 8 mm Hg to 40 mm Hg.
Lower pressure stockings can relieve mild varicose vein symptoms. For those who are just beginning to feel symptoms – such as soreness and pressure in the legs after a long day – try a pair below 20 mm Hg.
For more advanced varicose veins, have a doctor prescribe the right
Who Are Compression Socks Right For?
Most people who experience varicose veins can treat them safely with compression stockings, but there are some exceptions.
Read on to see who compression stockings work best for and who should not use them.
Compression Socks are For All Ages
Varicose veins are much more likely to develop after age 50, due to many years of wear and tear on vein valves.
However, younger people – even as young as their 20s – can experience this uncomfortable condition too.
Compression stockings are effective for varicose veins relief even in younger individuals. They not only minimize the pain and discomfort associated with varicose veins, but also the visual appearance of them.
They are especially beneficial for younger patients because they can prevent further damage to vein valves, keeping the condition from getting worse as the patient gets older.
Compression Socks and Pregnancy
Pregnant women often develop varicose veins, especially in the later stages of their pregnancy.
This happens for two reasons. First, the physical weight of the developing baby puts pressure on the lower abdomen and makes it harder for blood to flow back from the legs. This causes it to back up in the leg veins and begin to pool there, causing varicose veins. Second, the hormonal changes of pregnancy influence blood flow and make spider veins and varicose veins more likely.
Compression stockings help manage discomfort associated with the temporary varicose veins that develop during pregnancy.
Since they also prevent veins from becoming more damaged, compression stockings can keep pregnancy-related varicose veins from becoming permanent.
Preventing Blood Clots
Varicose veins are uncomfortable enough on their own, but they can cause other medical problems as well.
One complication of varicose veins is deep vein thrombosis (or DVT), often referred to as a blood clot. When blood pools in one area without moving, as it does when it pools in a varicose vein, it can form a blood clot.
Once a blood clot forms, can move through the circulatory system and become lodged in a small blood vessel. When this happens, it plugs the vessel and cuts off blood to an area of the body. This commonly causes a stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism.
For people at risk of blood clots, compression stockings effectively decrease the risk of developing them, especially when combined with other blood clot prevention therapy (like medications).
Only a doctor can prescribe medical-grade compression stockings to prevent blood clots from forming.
Compression Socks Aren’t For Everyone
Certain medical conditions make it inadvisable to use compression stockings.
Since compression stockings encourage blood to flow back from the legs, they can be harmful for patients who have problems getting enough blood to flow to their legs. In this situation, compression stockings can actually be harmful.
Compression socks are also contraindicated for patients with skin conditions on their legs, such as skin grafts or very fragile skin. The tight stockings can damage delicate skin and lead to infection.
A professional assessment is the best way to ensure that compression stockings are safe for you to use.
Compression Socks for Varicose Veins Work Best with Other Treatment
Compression stockings can manage the symptoms of mild to moderate varicose veins. On their own, they decrease the pain of this uncomfortable conditions and help prevent it from getting worse.
However, compression stockings are not a cure for varicose veins.
In fact, they are shown to work best when combined with other forms of varicose vein treatments. There are many virtually painless options to heal varicose vein discomfort.
Compression Socks And More
At every step in the journey of healing varicose veins, Veins VIP is there to help. Whether you are looking for compression socks for varicose veins, or are ready for a permanent varicose vein solution, their experienced team will find the option that is right for you.
Mrs. Paige Bourbeau, ARNP is a distinguished graduate of the University of South Florida's Masters of Science in Nursing program from 2012. As one of the top achievers in her class, she was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society and recognized by the American College of Phlebology for her expertise in treating venous insufficiency.