Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins

posted in: Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that most commonly appear in the legs and feet. This condition is not only a cosmetic concern but can also cause discomfort and more severe health issues. Symptoms typically include aching pain, heavy legs, and swelling. One effective non-surgical treatment option for managing these symptoms is using compression stockings. These specially designed stockings apply gradual pressure to the legs, supporting the veins and improving blood flow.

Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins - Vein Solutions

 

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are dilated, often tortuous ones that have become enlarged due to valve failure, preventing proper blood flow. Typically appearing bluish and swollen, they are most frequently found on the legs.

The development of varicose veins is primarily linked to genetic predisposition, but lifestyle factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, and prolonged standing also contribute. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, menopause, and puberty, as well as ageing, increase the risk.

Symptoms include aching pain, leg heaviness, swelling, and itching around the veins. In severe cases, varicose veins can lead to skin ulcers, bleeding, and venous eczema. Chronic venous insufficiency may develop if the condition progresses unchecked, potentially leading to more severe health issues.

 

What are Compression Stockings?

Compression stockings are specialised hosiery designed to help prevent the occurrence and progression of venous disorders such as oedema, phlebitis, and thrombosis. They come in various forms, including knee-highs, thigh-highs, and pantyhose, and are designed to meet different needs and preferences.

These stockings work by applying gentle pressure to the legs, enhancing venous blood flow towards the heart, reducing the diameter of distended veins, facilitating valve function and decreasing venous pressure.

Levels of Compression

Compression stockings are categorised by their compression levels, measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). The levels include:

Mild Compression (8-15 mmHg):
It helps relieve minor swelling and tired, achy legs.

Medium Compression (15-20 mmHg):
Suitable for moderate to severe varicose veins and preventing deep vein thrombosis.

High Compression (20-30 mmHg) and Extra High Compression (30-40 mmHg):
They are used for severe varicose veins, venous ulcers, and after vein surgery.

 

Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins

Compression stockings promote increased circulation and blood flow, reducing the diameter of swollen veins and helping to prevent blood pooling. This consistent pressure supports the vein walls and improves overall vein function, alleviating symptoms like swelling, pain, and fatigue in the legs.

Studies validate the efficacy of compression stockings in managing symptoms of venous insufficiency. Research shows significant improvement in the symptoms of varicose veins, with reduced leg swelling and pain, especially when stockings are worn regularly during the day.

 

Choosing the Right Compression Stockings

Selecting the appropriate compression stocking involves considering the material, length, and compression level:

Material:
Options include nylon, cotton, or spandex; each offers different comfort levels and breathability.

Length:
Depending on the location of varicose veins, choose from knee-high, thigh-high, or pantyhose.

Compression Level:
Select based on the severity of symptoms, from mild compression for slight discomfort to high compression for severe cases.

Proper fit is crucial for effectiveness and comfort. You should be measured by a medical supply shop or pharmacy professional, where trained staff can provide personalised sizing.

  • Wear your stockings first thing in the morning before swelling can occur.
  • Ensure they fit snugly but not dig into the skin.
  • Smooth out any wrinkles for even pressure distribution.

Tip:
Wear rubber gloves to adjust the stockings and avoid damaging them with your nails.

Compression Brands

Jobst:
It offers a range of compression solutions, including knee-high and thigh-high stockings and maternity tights with varying compression levels.

Sigvaris:
Known for high-quality materials and a wide selection of compression levels, Sigvaris provides stockings, sleeves, and pantyhose for medical and athletic needs.

Medi UK:
Medi offers a variety of compression garments, including stockings, sleeves, and orthopaedic supports, catering to different needs with innovative technologies.

Activa:
Focused on affordability and effectiveness, Activa provides compression hosiery suitable for daily wear, including options like below-knee and thigh-high stockings.

 

How to Use Compression Stockings

Wearing:

  • Start by holding the stocking at the top and turning it inside out up to the heel.
  • Slip your foot into the toe area and gently roll the stocking over your heel, then up your leg.
  • Smooth out any wrinkles and distribute evenly from the toe to the top of the stocking.

Removing:

  • Roll the stocking down from the top towards the ankle.
  • Pull over the heel and off the foot.

Best Practices for Daily Use:

  • Always wear stockings in the morning to prevent leg swelling.
  • Moisturize your legs in the evening after removing the stockings to maintain skin health.
  • Rotate between at least two pairs of stockings to ensure each pair maintains its elasticity.

Mistakes to Avoid:

  • Avoid wearing too tight or loose stockings, as both can negate the benefits.
  • Do not fold or roll the bands, which can constrict circulation.
  • Ensure stockings are dry and not damp when worn to prevent skin irritation.

 

Considerations

Possible Side Effects of Using Compression Stockings

  • Skin irritation or dryness, particularly if not properly fitted or maintained.
  • Discomfort or pain if the compression level is too high for individual tolerance.
  • Temporary indentations on the skin after removal.

When to Avoid Compression Stockings (Contraindications)

  • Severe peripheral arterial disease, where compression can worsen blood flow.
  • Skin infections, open wounds, or weeping dermatoses at the application site.
  • Extreme deformities in leg shape that prevent proper fitting.

Consulting with a Healthcare Provider

  • Before starting compression therapy, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure its safety and appropriateness based on individual medical conditions and histories.
  • A healthcare provider can also help determine the right type of compression stocking and the correct level of compression needed.

 

Care and Maintenance of Compression Stockings

  • Use mild soap and warm water to Wash stockings daily or after every use to remove oils and skin cells.
  • Hand-washing is recommended to extend the life of the fabric, though some can be machine washed in a lingerie bag on a gentle cycle.
  • Air dry stockings away from direct heat and sunlight; avoid tumble drying, which can degrade the elastic fibres.

Lifespan of Compression Stockings and When to Replace Them

  • Typically, compression stockings should be replaced every three to six months, depending on how often they are worn and washed.
  • Inspect regularly for signs of wear, such as thinning fabric, holes, or reduced elasticity, and replace them if they no longer provide adequate compression.

 

Additional Treatment Options for Varicose Veins

Sclerotherapy:
It involves injecting a solution into the vein that causes it to scar and close, rerouting blood to healthier veins.

Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT):
It uses laser energy to close off affected veins.

Radiofrequency Ablation:
Heat generated by radiofrequency is used to collapse and seal varicose veins.

Compression stockings are often used with these treatments to manage symptoms and improve outcomes. They are especially useful pre- and post-procedure to enhance blood flow, reduce swelling, and speed recovery. Depending on the severity of the varicose veins, their role can be supportive in conservative management and complementary to more invasive procedures.

 

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