Compression stockings can be helpful for easing symptoms caused by varicose veins. You may have heard from a friend or neighbor that compression stockings have helped them. But resist the urge to pick up the same pair — these stockings aren’t one-size-fits-all! There are a few things to consider before buying a pair. It’s always best to get them fitted by a vein specialist, like the best vascular surgeons in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center, but if you’d rather pick up a pair on your own, make sure to follow the following steps to ensure the best fit.
Why Wear Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are formed when vein valves are weak or damaged. These weakened or damaged valves affect your vein’s ability to push blood upward against gravity resulting in blood pooling into the vein instead. Legs can end up feeling heavy, restless, and painful as the veins swell. Compression stockings offer symptomatic relief by giving your legs a little help with proper blood circulation.
Compression stockings strategically apply pressure to the leg. They’re tightest in the ankle and gradually decrease pressure toward the top of the stocking. This pushes blood flow upward, helps maintain proper circulation, and minimizes the swelling associated with varicose veins. They also provide other benefits, including:
- Preventing or managing spider veins
- Steadying blood pressure
- Promoting healing after seeking vein therapy from a specialist
When to Wear Compression Stockings
Not everyone needs to wear compression stockings all day, every day. If you’re only picking up a pair of compression stockings to manage leg swelling after a long day at work, you probably don’t have to consider them part of your daily wardrobe. They can also be useful for occasional wear to ease leg swelling from traveling or sports. If you already have varicose veins, you’ll want to wear them daily; your legs need all the help they can get to keep your blood circulating as it should.
Picking the Right Compression Stocking for You
Stockings come in a variety of sizes and compression levels, so you’ll want to know what size you need before you start shopping. Manufacturers will include their own measurement guides, but you’ll be expected to know the size of your ankles and the widest point of your calf. If you’re picking up thigh-high stockings or compression tights, you’ll also need to know measurements for your thighs and inseam.
Next, you’ll need to pick out the best compression level for you. These are measured by blood pressure in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Not all compression stockings are available over the counter, so you may still need to visit a specialist to get the best fit for you. Stockings are available in four different compression levels:
- 15-20 mmHg. The lowest level is ideal if you’re experiencing leg swelling and fatigue due to being on your feet for extended periods of time. These are available over the counter.
- 20-30 mmHg. A Medical Class Grade I stocking, this level works for most individuals and is most often prescribed for varicose veins. It can also be helpful for managing leg swelling and heaviness due to pregnancy.
- 30-40 mmHg. This Medical Class Grade II stocking is generally used for patients with deep vein thrombosis.
- 40-50 mmHg. This Medical Class Grade III stocking is the strongest available and should only be used when prescribed by a physician. This level is used to manage severe lymphedema, wounds, and ulcers.
How to Wear Compression Stockings
The gradual pressure offered by compression stockings is great for your legs once they’re on. However, it can make it quite tricky to actually get your leg into the stocking! Don’t worry; if done properly, it’s not as hard as it may seem. You’ll first want to wear donning gloves or regular kitchen gloves to prevent your hands from causing any damage to your stockings. Fold your stocking inside-out to the heel, then place your foot inside. Carefully pull the stocking up over your leg, making sure it does not wrinkle.
When Compression Stockings Aren’t Enough
Compression stockings can manage varicose vein symptoms, but they can’t make the veins disappear. It’s important to take varicose veins seriously; often times they are more than a cosmetic condition. Over time, they can pose a risk to your vein health by leading to ulcers or, in rare but dangerous cases, blood clots. Treatment can be easy and affordable. Insurance carriers will often cover some of the costs if treatment is done by a specialist.
Vein treatments, such as the ones offered at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center, are minimally invasive with short recovery times. For example, endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) is quick enough to be performed within a lunch break, and patients are back up on their feet post-procedure. During EVLT, a specialist inserts a small catheter into the vein and then applies thermal energy. This causes the vein to seal shut, and blood is automatically routed to other, healthy veins. There is no scarring.
Venaseal may also be used to treat troublesome varicose veins. Similar to EVLT, a specialist will insert a catheter into the leg, but instead of heat, special medical glue is applied to the vein. This also causes the vein to seal shut without any scarring. Two or more veins may be treated at once, if necessary.
Need help in figuring out if compression stockings are right for you? Schedule a consultation with the best vascular surgeons in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center. We’ll check out your vein health and let you know if compression stockings are the best course of action, or if minimally invasive treatment will be best for your veins. We’ll make sure you know and understand what’s best for your veins every step of the way, from the initial call through each step of your treatment plan. You can schedule an appointment today by calling 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547.