Choosing the Right Compression Stockings for You

October 11, 2019 • Our Blog • SclerotherapyVaricose Veins

Compression stockings reduce the swelling and pain of varicose veins by helping the veins do their job. The best part: you get to pick a pair that is comfortable and attractive.

If you have varicose veins, have been treated for varicose veins, or simply notice your legs get heavy and achy by the end of the day, you’ve probably been told to buy compression stockings. These tightly woven elastic garments provide your leg veins an added boost as they pump blood back to the heart.

That boost is necessary because varicose veins occur when the one-way valves in the veins cannot hold back the rush of blood. Instead of closing and pushing the blood upward to the chest, the weakened valves allow blood to accumulate within the vein walls, which eventually leads to varicose veins popping up along the legs.

though there are many treatment options for varicose veins, from at-home remedies and exercise to minimally invasive surgeries, compression stockings are often recommended to help reduce the symptoms of varicose veins such as painful swelling and cramping. Fortunately, compression stockings come in several styles and compression levels, and your vein specialist will help you choose the right one for you in terms of both strength and comfort.

Picking Your Compression Stocking

Picking the right compression stocking begins with selecting the appropriate level of compression for your specific needs. Compression levels are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), with the lightest compression ranging between 8 and 15 mmHg and the next level of compression ranging between 15 and 20 mmHg. Available over-the-counter, both types are good for mild symptoms of varicose veins or for patients who stand or sit for long periods.

If you require a stronger compression grade, your doctor will prescribe stockings with a compression of at least 20 to 30 mmHg. These stockings are used to treat varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis. They may also be worn after sclerotherapy, a procedure to surgically collapse varicose veins, to promote circulation and healing.

Compression stockings fit tight around the ankles and steadily loosen as they go further up the leg. If you’ve been prescribed compression stockings, you’ll go to a trained medical professional who will measure your leg for a comfortable fit. It’s recommended that you schedule your fitting for the morning, when your leg is less swollen.

After your fitting, you’ll select your stocking type. Compression stockings can extend up the knee or thigh, and are either closed- or open-toed. The type that’s best for you depends upon where you have the most swelling and discomfort. If your varicose veins criss-cross the lower leg, a knee-high stocking will manage the swelling and other symptoms. To improve circulation along the entire leg, thigh-high or pantyhose-type compression stockings are best.

Putting on compression stockings may be difficult at first, but with some instruction and experience, it becomes easier. Start by taking an unrolled or rolled stocking and slipping it over the foot and ankle, then gradually tugging the garment up the leg. If you have arthritis, you may wish to use a stocking donner device. When the stocking is in place, it should fit smoothly along the leg without bunching up around the ankles.

You also get to choose the fabric, which can be either opaque or sheer. Opaque stockings provide more durability and stronger compression than a sheer pair. However, some patients prefer sheer stockings because they’re less noticeable under shorts and skirts.

Healing Varicose Veins

At the Desert Vein and Vascular Institute, we’ll assist you in choosing the compression stockings that offer both relief and comfort for all-day wear. We can also discuss treatment options that permanently eliminate varicose veins. Contact our office today for an appointment


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