The New Generation of Support Stockings for Varicose Veins

Doctors have recommended the use of compression stockings to prevent varicose veins or relieve their symptoms for decades. In their early days, these stockings offered very little choice; most were the same length, provided about the same degree of compression and came in only one color – white. Fortunately, there are many more choices today and all of them offer something slightly different when it comes to protection from varicose veins and other vein diseases.

Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that appear just beneath the surface of the skin. Any vein can become a varicose vein but they most commonly develop on the legs and feet. This is because the veins in your lower body must fight the force of gravity to move blood upwards.

There are many ways to prevent and treat varicose veins and other vein diseases, and almost all of them include wearing some sort of special hosiery or stockings. This hosiery works by applying external pressure to diseased veins. There are several types of stockings for varicose veins, and each type is slightly different.

About Varicose Veins

shutterstock_118528180-WOArteries carry blood from your heart to the far reaches of your body, including down to your feet. Your veins hold blood moving from the faraway cells of your body back to your heart. Veins have a much tougher task, in that they must fight the force of gravity to move your blood upwards out of your feet and lower legs. One-way valves located at various locations throughout these veins traps blood in small sections of the veins between heartbeats, so the blood does not flow backwards into your feet. Without these valves, blood would drain downwards and pool in your feet, which would prevent the cells of your lower legs from getting the oxygen rich blood they need.

Arteries have thick elastic, muscular walls that help them stand up to the high pressure of blood flowing within them. Veins, by comparison, have thin non-elastic walls that can bloat and twist easily to become a varicose vein. When the pressure inside the vein is greater than the pressure outside of it, the vein expands like an over-inflated balloon and turns into a varicose vein.

Types of Stockings for Varicose Veins

The special hosiery or stockings recommended by your vein doctor promote good circulation in your legs by helping your veins overcome the problems that lead to varicose veins by increasing the pressure outside of the vein. This pressure pushes blood up and out of your veins to prevent it from pooling.

There are several types and lengths of stockings for varicose veins, and each works provides the pressure your veins need for good circulation and the prevention of varicose veins.

Anti-embolism hose prevents the formation of embolisms, which are blood clots or other substances that block a vein. Embolisms can travel through the body and lodge in the lung or in other vital organs. Anti-embolism hose may have graduated compression, which means the pressure is greater at the ankle than it is at the knee. These stockings are for patients who are immobile or who must remain in bed or in a chair for a long time, as anti-embolism stockings do not provide enough compression for people who are sitting, standing or walking. Anti-embolism stockings come in knee- and thigh-length.

Compression socks are like conventional knee socks that cover your lower legs from your feet to just below your knees. Compression socks apply pressure to your calves to prevent blood from pooling in your lower legs. Thigh-high compression hose provides vein support up to the middle of your thigh.

Compression socks of 8 to 15 mmHg offer mild compression that relieve tired, achy legs and swollen feet, for example, while 20 mmHg stockings provide enough compression to prevent and relieve moderate to severe varicose veins. These stockings come in different colors and styles, including black knee-high ribbed dress socks for men and ultra-sheer thigh-high compression stockings for women.

Compression stockings feel tight at first but most people acclimate quickly. Pulling on the stockings is often the most difficult part, especially for those with arthritis and limited ability to bend. Accessories, such as the stocking donner, make applying compression stockings easier.

Have you got varicose veins? You don’t have to wear your grandmother’s support hose! Talk with your doctor to find out which type of modern compression stocking is best for you.