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Anti-Embolism Stockings – Post-Surgery Guide (Step-by-Step)

white anti-embolic stockings image

Recovery from surgery is easier now that we have anti-embolism socks. Anti-embolism stockings are essentially a subset of compression socks, commonly used for patients restricted to bed and awaiting recovery. In this article, we will review what anti-embolism sock is all about, how it works and reasons for wearing them. Relax and read on!

Embolism: What does it mean?

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a complication involving deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. DVT arises from the accumulation of blood in a deep vein— normally in the lower limb, pelvis or thigh — while pulmonary embolism (PE) arises when a blood clot bursts and moves through the lung bloodstream.

There is a great risk of patients developing either deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism after surgery or injury. This occurrence necessitates the recommendation and use of anti-embolism stockings for patients recovering from a surgery or operation.

What are anti-embolism stockings?

anti-embolism socks image

As we discussed earlier, anti-embolism stockings work the same way as compression socks. It is designed with compact fabrics that boost the flow of blood, thus inhibiting blood clot formation. Also, compression socks are designed with varying levels of compression between 5 mmHg to 60 mmHg while anti-embolism socks have their highest compression level at 18 mmHg. The reason for its relatively low compression level is to maintain adequate venous response in patients, without needing to address already present venous issues.

While the word “graduated compression hosiery” and “anti-embolism stockings” are often used interchangeably, anti-embolism stocking is quite specific and limited in use. Only bedridden patients are prescribed to wear this stocking especially those who are required to spend long hours in bed.

How does anti-embolism stocking work?

image showing how anti-embolic stocking work

You need to have a thorough understanding of the entire circulatory system to know how anti-embolism stockings work. Blood is pumped by your heart and moved to the entire part of your body through the circulatory system, carrying oxygenated blood and nutrients to your tissues, organs, and body cells. After this, the blood flows into your lungs through the pulmonary system, while carbon dioxide fizzes out and replaced with fresh oxygen. The cycle starts all over with the re-oxygenation of blood.

You have a strong heart but force of gravity acts on your blood which causes blood pooling if you aren’t moving around. The blood usually pools in the legs leading to aches, pains, swelling, and other adverse health hazards. The same thing applies to those who sit or stand for an extended period daily – this is the same case with post-op patients. 

Graduated compression socks like anti-embolism stocking exert graduated pressure on your body, exerting more pressure around the feet and ankles, while the pressure reduces as it moves upwards to the thighs.

The aim of this pressure is to compress the leg veins and prevent it from expansion and pooling of blood. Rather, it allows more flow of blood, minimizes swelling, inflammation, consequently reducing the risk of venous thromboembolism.

Anti-embolism stockings can be purchased in two major lengths which are thigh-high and knee-high. While thigh-high provides a broader compression benefit around your leg region, the knee-high is limited and less constricting. Also, some anti-embolism socks are designed with inspection toe pockets so your caregivers can check on the state of your legs without having to remove the stockings.

Anti-embolism socks make proper blood circulation to the legs a seamless and effective process. They are made of lightweight materials making it comfortable to wear while undergoing the recovery process. It also minimizes the risk of contracting venous thromboembolism.

All you should know about Wearing Anti-embolism Socks after Surgery

compression socks for embolic after surgery

Let’s assume you’re planning for major surgery especially those affecting your legs, you may need to use compression socks as recommended by your doctor. This will go a long way in your post-surgery recovery process.

The benefit of graduated stockings is numerous especially for post-surgery patients, it ranges from the reduction of leg swelling to DVT protection.

Note: Regardless of the benefits accrued to using compression socks, they shouldn’t be worn without prescription from a doctor. Ensure you consult your doctor before putting on compression stockings no matter your health condition.

6 Benefits of anti-embolism socks

1. Anti-embolism Socks Promotes Circulation

Restricted movement is often recommended by doctors for patients who just finished surgery. This is necessary for quick healing of the surgical site as movement could affect the stitches. That being said, staying in bed can also lead to other health issues and complications such as blood clots. Prolonged stay at a spot or in bed can cause more blood supplied than needed for ambulatory purposes. Therefore, blood pools in the veins and muscles causing varicose veins and other venous complications.

Wearing compression socks enhances the flow of blood through the application of gentle pressure tapering up your legs. The pressure generated boosts circulation even in a sedentary position thereby making compression socks a viable remedy for patients recovering from surgery with bed rest.

2. Anti-embolism Socks Reduces Swelling

After surgery, it’s expected that some patients might feel some level of pain and swelling. However, the swelling should not pass a certain threshold as extreme swelling could spell danger and severe complications. This is where you may need to purchase antiembolism compression stockings to help keep the swelling in check as it would prevent skin expansion and cause the fluid to be expelled rather than pooling at a spot and swell.

To achieve an optimal result, never allow your leg to swell considerably before wearing these specially designed compression socks. The best time to wear anti embolic stockings for optimal results is early in the morning after waking up. Also, you can wear your socks based on doctors’ advice regardless of the time or period.

3. Anti-embolic Stockings Prevent Formation of Varicose and Spider Veins

Varicose and Spider veins arise from are poor blood circulation. As your venous blood flows in one way, the flow is hampered and altered as blood flows in the opposite direction. This, in turn, causes bulging and darkening of veins thereby resulting in varicose and spider veins.

Varicose veins and spider veins look similar but with a few distinctions. For instance, Varicose veins are larger and darker, and in rare conditions might bulge out significantly from the skin. On the other hand, spider veins are usually cosmetic, it shows as thin dark lines very close to the skin. Both varicose and spider veins are known to cause itchiness and pain.  With compression socks, your chance of developing varicose and spider veins post-surgery is significantly reduced.

4. Prevents Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Symptoms

DVT is a serious complication that arises from the formation of a blood clot within the veins. in most cases, the blood clots are found within the leg region, though other body parts are not exempted from this condition. In fact, DVT can get to the lungs and cause a major health challenge such as pulmonary embolism. 

DVT signs include leg pain, discolored or red skin and feelings of warmth. Your chances of DVT is increased through surgery. 

5. Helps to Speed up Your Healing and Recovery Process

Oxygen-rich blood and essential nutrients are transported throughout the body during the blood circulation process. Also, the healing process is quickened through the circulation of blood as it aids the absorption and distribution of medications into the bloodstream. This is why you need to wear anti embolic stockings after surgery to enhance good circulation and speed up your healing process. 

6. Promotes a Safer Recovery

The combination of these factors aids overall recovery. Anti-embolism socks enhance circulation and minimize swelling, which in turn prevents DVT, varicose veins and spider veins, also it speeds up healing time.

Apply care when wearing: Three effective Ways to Keep Your anti-embolism socks as good as new

The decision to buy compression socks with stockings for support is an investment that involves money, time, and a lot of effort. You won’t want to waste your money on something that won’t last. Thankfully, you can follow a few steps to make your compression socks last longer, elongating its lifespan.
All you should know about the care of compression gear, from how to wear it to how to clean, as well as replace them if need be.

1. How to wear Your Socks

In general, most individuals derive a lot of benefits after wearing compression socks for the whole day, wearing them once they step out of their beds and removing them only at night during bedtime. The entire concept is centered on wearing support socks to prevent swelling from coming up. Nonetheless, if you’re not conversant with the therapy of compression, there’s a possibility you’ll find the whole idea of wearing support socks the full day quite absurd. It’s quite easy; you could start by only wearing this support gear for some hours, then make plans to wear them throughout the day. In your best interest, your physician will advise you on the most appropriate to use when it can be used and the length of time these compression gear should be worn. Ensure to change your support stockings each day, because they might be sweaty and dirty when you remove them. The fabric used in producing compression socks is stretchy to give a good fit on your body for the whole day, the main reason why a new garment should be worn every morning. It is necessary to have two pairs in the least, and one will be worn while you wash and dry the other.

Image showing how to was anti embolic socks

2. Keeping Your anti-embolism socks clean

After wearing your compression and support garments, they should be washed and cleaned with extra care to prevent any form of compromise to the material. Few steps to help you properly clean your compression gear with your hand, then with a washing machine:

By Hand

  1. Get a basin, tub, or sink and fill it up with water. Dip the compression garment into the lukewarm water till it gets very wet, then remove it.
  2. Put in a little quantity of mild detergent or soap into the water. Most brands sell compression stockings, with a cleaning product to follow.
  3. Ensure to get a smooth mixture of the solvent in the water. Put the already wet compression socks into the water, leaving them to sit in the water for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Remove dirt and oil from the socks. Ensure you take special care and pay attention to the silicon bands, as it is susceptible to attracting foreign bodies.
  5. .Next, rinse the socks, squeezing gently to get rid of soap or any unwanted material. Avoid pulling the support socks; you could overstretch it, affecting the fitting. 6. Rinse again and again, and keep squeezing until the water is no longer soapy. Press the socks to remove enough water and flatten the socks to dry in a serene environment. Putting them close to the heat or wringing may cause harm to the fabric. By Machine
  6. Look at the silicon bands, check if any visible stains or dirt are trapped in them. Ensure to wash these spots with your hand first of all. 2. Put your support garment in a knitted gear bag to keep them safe while in the washing cycle.
  7. Make adjustments to the washing machine, following the manufacturer’s manual, placing on a period, be it cold or warm.
  8. Put in a small quantity of noncorrosive detergent or soap, or any product for cleaning, based on the manufacturer’s commendation while using the washing machine. Remember, don’t add any form of bleach or material softeners; these will spoil the fabric.
  9. Once the cycle is complete, ensure to remove the compression socks from the washing machine, gently removing excess water by pressing it. Flatten your compression socks in a cool place to enable drying. Avoid wringing or putting near any heat source.
knee high white socks to prevent embolism

3. Replacing your anti-embolism socks

Over time, you’ll discover that even the best cared for support stockings loses elasticity and stretches. This, therefore, elucidates the necessity to have more than just one pair, changing them at intervals to extend the lifespan and increase effectiveness. Some producers are of the claims that their products can stand the test of time and last for about six months without complaints of breaking down. Consumers, on the other hand, are in the habit of replacing their support socks and garments regularly, once every three to six months, most especially if the same product is worn consistently and repeatedly.