Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins: 4 Things to Look For
The Right Kind of Pressure
In many ways, compression stockings and gear are having a moment; fans of professional sports are seeing their favorite athletes wear them on the field or court, and more and more gym-goers are adopting the trend. And while these people are wearing them to boost performance or quicken recovery, these garments are also an essential part of the management of varicose veins. Not only is wearing them the first line of treatment, it’s also essential after other medical interventions for this condition.
But what should you look for in therapeutic compression stockings? Read on for this quick breakdown of what to look for in a solid pair.
1. The Appropriate Length
You’ll want to talk to your doctor about your condition and what your needs are. Compression leg wear comes in differing lengths, with some just wrapping up the ankle and calves and stopping under the knee, while others go up to the thigh or come as tights. The higher ones tend to be recommended for those who have blood clotting problems, while lower cut pairs are more aimed at taking on varicose veins.
2. Prescription vs. Non-Prescription
Another consideration in the management of varicose veins is whether to opt for prescription-strength, specialized compression wear, or to stick to over-the-counter varieties. These vary in cost and strength, and largely, of course, you’ll need to take a doctor’s advice into consideration. Prescription compression gear is specifically fitted to the patient’s body, so it has the advantage of being especially designed to take on your varicose vein issue. That said, other kinds can also be helpful and can work reasonably well in less severe cases.
3. Amount of Pressure
Another important aspect to consider with compression stockings is the amount of pressure they place on the lower limbs. This is measured using a unit called “millimeter of mercury” (mmHg), where the larger the number, the more pressure is applied onto the space.  Again, doctor’s advice can point you in the right direction, but there’s also your own comfort to consider. Basically, stockings should feel snug and tight but not painfully so. Feel free to try out different types to see what works best for you.
4. Comfort & Style
Here’s the thing: for compression wear to be effective, you have to wear it a lot. At minimum, they should be worn during the day, though sometimes doctors will recommend that patients wear them at night as well. Day-use helps assuage circulation problems that occur due to long periods of sitting or standing as often occur during work. This being the case, you want compression gear that is not only comfortable to wear, but that you’d want to present to the outside world. Put simply, you’d be less likely to wear something that is unflattering, so think, too, about how your gear looks.
A Coordinated Effort
Compression stockings and gear are an important component of varicose vein treatment, but, in most cases, wearing them alone will not entirely take care of the problem. For instance, one study from 2014 noted that when compared to surgical treatment, wearing compression stockings with no other treatment was less effective.  Notably, managing varicose veins can also mean employing lifestyle changes such as working to lose weight. Overall, then, the struggle against this condition should be multi-faceted: a combination of medical advice and intervention and individual behaviors.
Still, in the face of the physical discomfort, pain, and unsightliness, such efforts are worth it. Certainly, compression stockings can provide a much-needed boost in the attempt to eradicate this issue.
If you suffer from varicose veins, the team at Hamilton Vein & Vascular is ready to help. Employing the latest and best in minimally-invasive techniques and technologies, the experts at these Texas-based outpatient clinics pride themselves in ensuring patient comfort and exceptional results. Learn more about what they do by calling their Houston office at (281) 565-0033, Austin’s clinic at (512) 710-1114, or San Antonio at (210) 405-4707 today!
- “Mmhg”. 2018. Com. Accessed December 8 2018. https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/mmHg.
- Sell, H., P. Vikatmaa, A. Albäck, M. Lepäntalo, A. Malmivaara, O. Mahmoud, and M. Venermo. 2014. “Compression Therapy Versus Surgery In The Treatment Of Patients With Varicose Veins: A RCT”. European Journal Of Vascular And Endovascular Surgery47 (6): 670-677. Elsevier BV. doi:10.1016/j.ejvs.2014.02.015.