If you have varicose veins or have been treated for varicose veins, you’ve probably been told to wear compression stockings. And there’s a good reason to do so. These highly elastic garments put gentle, constant pressure on the veins in order to help blood circulate from the legs to the heart. As a result, wearing compression stockings can reduce the swelling and pain of varicose veins and may even prevent blood clots.
Even if you don’t suffer from varicose veins, you may decide to don compression stockings if your job requires that you stand for long periods. But before you purchase compression stocking, you need to know more about the garments and how to properly use them to keep your veins healthy.
Compression Stockings Basics
Compressions stockings come in various strengths. The ones sold in drugstores and medical supply stores have a lower compression factor than those prescribed by a doctor. Prescription compression stockings are made of tighter elastic, so you should have your leg measured by a trained professional to ensure a proper fit.
All compression socks will feel tight around the ankle and looser further up the leg. While the stockings should fit snugly on your leg, they shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. You can wear them during the day, but should remove them at bedtime or for bathing.
If you’re interested in purchasing compression stockings, you have many style options. Depending upon your preference, you can purchase knee- or thigh-high compression stockings with either a closed or open toe. The garments also come in different colors and patterns, so many will look like ordinary socks rather than “medical” socks.
It also recommended that you buy two pairs so you can wear one while the other is being cleaned. The garments typically need to be replaced every four to six months.
Putting on Compression Stockings
Because of the tight elastic, compression stockings are difficult to put on at first. With practice, you’ll be able to slip on the stockings with ease. Here are two methods to try:
- Turn the stocking inside out and position your toes in the toe of the garment. Gradually pull the stocking over the toes and the heel of the foot and then slide it up your leg.
- Take the unbunched stocking and gently slip the foot and ankle portion over the foot and heel. Once that part is covered, glide the rest of the stocking along the leg.
As you put the compression stockings on, be sure to smooth out any wrinkles and avoid any bunching at the ankles that could restrict circulation. Be sure to dry your skin thoroughly before wearing the stockings.
You can also purchase aids to help you slip on the compression stockings. Specially-made rubber gloves enable you to better grip the stockings as you pull them up your leg. For open-toed stockings, a “slip sock” placed over the foot guides the stocking over the foot and ankle and can be removed once the stocking is on.
In addition, a “stocking butler” made of metal holds the stocking open as you put your leg over it. This device can be helpful for people who have arthritis and have difficulty gripping the stocking.
Protect Your Veins
At Vein & Vascular Institute, your vein health is our top priority. We offer a full slate of vein treatments. If you’d like to know more about protecting your veins with compression stockings and other therapies, contact our office today for an appointment.