Compression stockings for varicose veins: Benefits and Limitations
Varicose veins are a common health issue globally, with millions of individuals affected. In India, it is estimated that approximately 10-15% of the population suffer from varicose veins . One common and effective treatment to control this condition is the use of compression stockings for varicose veins. In this blog article Dr. Sumit Kapadia Senior Vascular Surgeon and varicose vein specialist will discuss the benefits of compression stockings for varicose veins, the types of stockings available, some of the risks and limitations associated with their use, and explore relevant statistical data specific to India to provide a comprehensive understanding of this treatment option.
Why You Should Use Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins
Compression stockings are specially designed socks that apply gentle pressure to your legs, helping improve blood flow and reduce the discomfort associated with varicose veins. By providing support to the veins, these varicose veins socks can alleviate symptoms such as swelling, aching, and heaviness in the legs.
Studies have shown that compression stockings can effectively reduce pain, swelling, and discomfort associated with varicose veins . In a survey of 150 patients with varicose veins, 86% reported reduced pain, and 79% reported reduced swelling after using compression stockings . By providing support to the veins, these varicose veins socks can alleviate symptoms and help prevent the condition from worsening, reducing the risk of developing complications like blood clots.
Which Type of Compression Stocking Should I Use?
short YouTube video on how to wear and remove stockings
Selecting the appropriate type of compression stocking for your specific needs is essential for effectively managing varicose veins. There are several types of stockings for varicose veins available on the market, each with different features and compression levels. The four main types include:
Graduated compression stockings:
These stockings are tighter at the ankle and gradually decrease in pressure as they move up the leg, promoting blood flow towards the heart. Graduated compression stockings are the most commonly prescribed type for varicose veins and come in various lengths, such as knee-high, thigh-high, or full pantyhose, depending on the area affected. Many low cost ready-made stockings do not follow this principle of compression and hence may not be able to provide the desired results. Some low cost stockings even have a hole at the ankle and thus are unsuitable for varicose veins.
These are designed for people who are less mobile, bedridden, or recovering from surgery, providing a lower level of compression to prevent blood clots. Anti-embolism stockings may not be suitable for those with moderate to severe varicose veins, as they typically offer less compression compared to graduated compression stockings.
Nonmedical support hosiery:
These offer the least amount of compression and can be purchased without a prescription. Non Medical support hosiery, such as regular support pantyhose, can be suitable for mild cases of varicose veins or as a preventive measure. However, they may not provide sufficient compression for more severe cases.
Custom-made compression stockings:
In some cases, an off-the-shelf compression stocking may not provide the best fit or adequate compression for a patient. Custom-made compression stockings can be tailored to an individual’s specific measurements and needs, ensuring a proper fit and optimized compression level.
When choosing the type of compression stocking, it is crucial to consider the severity of your varicose veins, your lifestyle, and any specific medical conditions or concerns. Consulting with a varicose vein specialist can help you determine the most suitable type of compression stocking for your needs.
How Do Compression Stockings Work?
Compression stockings work by applying consistent pressure to the leg, which helps the veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. This pressure aids in reducing the diameter of swollen veins, allowing the valves within the veins to function properly and improving overall blood circulation.
Risks of Compression Stockings
While there are many benefits of compression stockings for varicose veins, it’s essential to be aware of potential risks and limitations. Some people may experience discomfort or skin irritation from the stockings. Additionally, improper use or incorrect sizing can result in reduced blood flow or even exacerbate the condition. If you have any concerns or experience worsening symptoms, consult Varicose Vein Specialist for guidance.
Also Read: Top 8 Myths & Facts About Varicose Veins
How to Choose the Right Compression Level
When selecting the appropriate compression level for your needs, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure you receive the right amount of pressure. Compression stockings are available in various strengths, typically measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). For varicose veins, a medical professional may recommend a compression level ranging from 15-20 mmHg to 30-40 mmHg, depending on the severity of your condition. These are often termed as class 2 compression stockings ( offer compression of 20 to 30 mm Hg). For patients with severe swelling and veno-lymphatic edema, class 3 stockings ( offering compression of 30 to 40 mm Hg) would be more effective.
Compression stockings for varicose veins offer several benefits, including improved blood flow, reduced pain and swelling, and prevention of complications. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of this treatment, with a significant proportion of patients reporting symptom relief. By understanding the different types of stockings available and choosing the correct compression level, you can effectively manage your varicose veins and enjoy a better quality of life.
If you need any further assistance or consultation regarding compression stockings for varicose veins, contact Dr. Sumit Kapadia, a leading varicose vein specialist. Dr. Kapadia works at Aadicura Superspeciality Hospital and regularly visits Surat, Gujarat, providing expert care and guidance to patients with varicose veins.