Do Compression Stockings Really Work?
If you have issues with varicose veins or are prone to blood clots in your legs, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of compression stockings. Compression stockings offer the most benefits for people who are at risk for dangerous blood clots (deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism), though they are also useful in alleviating pain and discomfort caused by varicose veins, as well as other circulatory problems.
There are several factors that can increase your risk for blood clots, some of which include:
- Sitting for long periods of time (at work or on a long plane flight)
- Bed rest following surgery
- Increased estrogen from birth control pills or hormone replacement
- Genetics (predisposition for deep vein thrombosis or other clotting disorders)
Compression stockings may be recommended for individuals who are at a higher risk for venous issues, but do they really work?
How Do Compression Stockings Work?
The blood that flows through your veins to your heart has to work against gravity to reach its destination. This is why your veins are equipped with valves that keep that blood flowing upward in the direction it is supposed to. However, if these valves weaken or fail, they begin to allow the blood to flow backward (or reflux). When this happens, the blood begins to pool in your veins, and the results are varicose veins and the accompanying discomfort – swelling, itching, pain – as well as increased risk for developing blood clots.
Compression stockings work by squeezing your legs and the walls of your veins, which helps the blood flow to your heart like it is supposed to. They can help reduce swelling by improving the flow of the fluid in your legs, and alleviate your discomfort overall. By keeping the blood and fluid moving correctly in your lower legs, it reduces your risk for varicose veins and blood clots.
Finding the Right Compression
Compression stockings are not a one-size-fits-all solution. They come in a variety of levels of compression, with each level designed to meet specific needs. Light compression stockings are typically used by pregnant women or those who have leg fatigue from standing or sitting for prolonged periods. Medium levels of compression can help alleviate minor swelling, and help prevent blood clots from forming during long flights. High compression levels are used when you already have varicose veins, or more serious swelling in your legs, as well as to prevent blood clots in patients following surgery.
Whatever your needs, it is important that you get the right kind of compression stockings and that you wear them properly. As with any kind of tool, if used incorrectly, you won’t get the results you are looking for. A study conducted by the American Journal of Nursing found that out of 142 patients who were advised to wear compression stockings after surgery, more than 25 percent were given the wrong size, and almost 30 percent wore them incorrectly – allowing them to bunch, which can put excess pressure in the wrong place.
You can buy compression stockings online, as well as in your local drugstore, but for the correct fit for your individual needs, we recommend that you visit us at Advanced Varicose Vein Treatments of Manhattan. Our experienced team can not only examine you and screen for more serious vein issues, but we offer a variety of treatments for varicose veins and the accompanying symptoms. If compression stockings are something you’d like to try, we can fit you with the correct level of pressure so that you experience the benefits of the compression as designed.
If you are experiencing leg pain, swelling, or varicose veins, it’s time to visit Advanced Varicose Vein Treatments of Manhattan. Call us today at 212-204-6501 and schedule an appointment for a consultation.