Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins – Guide (with Pictures!)

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Have you been suffering from pains, swellings, aches, and heaviness all in your legs?

Well, you are not alone on this. These are common symptoms of poor blood circulation surrounding the lower region of your body, which results in great discomfort. That’s not all! There is also the occurrence of varicose (bulging and enlarged) veins, which often stem from cosmetic concerns in people, women especially. This is because, with most individuals, the veins bring discomforts with symptoms that break their confidence with the physiology of the visible veins on affected regions of their legs.

What are Varicose Veins?

leg pain

Before we get into it, what really is ‘Varicose veins’ (Varicositis) or is it just another fancy medical term.

varicose veins on legs

Here’s a simple illustration.

Imagine passing water through a rubber hose and using your feet to stop water from getting out of a specific area of the hose, while the other end is attached to a water source gushing out. The point at your feet will eventually start bulging out due to the obstruction caused by your feet. So there you go. Varicose veins are just terms for bulging blood vessels in the body. They mostly occur as the lower body region of the body (thigh, calves) being either painless or painful to touch.

Associated Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Typically, varicose veins appear swollen with visible bluish-purple or even red in color for superficial veins just beneath the skin. These can, however, differ for deep venous blood vessels that are not that visible. A common symptom for these types of veins is aches on the affected leg, swelling at points where blood pools causing varicose veins to occur. Thus, these are the primary symptoms of bulging veins – aches, edema, disfigured vein structure, visible vein trees on thighs or/and calves, heaviness and soreness of legs, and on rare occasions severe veins and discolorations.

Causes of Varicose Veins

Several factors play roles in the cause of varicose veins. Earlier we began using the water hose illustration. Using the same illustration, we will be highlighting factors commonly responsible for obstructing the valves of the veins, causing the blood to pool in affected veins. 

It is important to note that the vein relies heavily on muscular support and less on gravity to pull blood back towards the heart. Thus, any condition that applies to these muscles around the lower part of our body (abdomen and legs) is most likely to result in the formation of varicose veins. They include:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pressure from log hours on feet (especially for health workers, hospitality workers etc.)
  • Aging: It is known that the veins become weak with age.
  • Hereditary, an individual from a family prone to having varicose veins, has greater chances of developing those bulging veins.
  • Sedentary conditions also are responsible for most conditions of varicose veins. This is because they result in poor blood flow from relaxed muscles.

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Possible Results for Individuals with Varicose Veins

For individuals with asymptomatic varicose veins that are only visible beneath the skin (for superficial veins), it is common to brush off the condition. However, varicose veins unattended can worsen over time. Hence, it’s best to control and manage it given certain changes which are responsible, if the condition is a result of certain lifestyles.

Further conditions of varicose veins left untreated include the occurrence of inflammations, sores, venous ruptures, and ulcers.

Can Varicose Veins be Prevented?

preventing varicose veins

We understand that most of the factors which predispose individuals to varicose veins such as family genetics, age, gender (the higher tendency for women), pregnancy are uncontrollable, Varicose veins, however, can be managed as a condition and also prevented for others.

In preventing varicose veins, here are some prescribed methods validated to be significantly effective:

  • Regular movements that close out the chances of a sedentary lifestyle such as sitting or standing for long periods.
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

This entails eating the right value nutrients, watching your weight to prevent obesity, avoid smoking and exercising regularly.

  • Proper sleeping position for pregnant women

We earlier highlighted the need to keep pressure off the muscles which supports the veins. This also applies to pregnant women mostly.

  • Use compression stockings

This can not be overemphasized and should be takeup under the supervision of your physician. Wearing compression stockings come with an understanding of the best fit for your body and health condition. Primarily these stockings help protect your veins by keeping then in the right position while enabling proper blood flow and preventing blood pull.

Other preventive tips include:

  • Reducing salt intake is known to have a positive effect on reducing edema.
  • Avoid wearing tight fabrics (at the groins, thigh, and waist). It can potentially worsen varicose veins.
  • For the ladies, the frequency of wearing high heels should be reduced to more of lower heels (this eases blood flow in the veins and strengthens the calf muscles).

In managing varicose veins, aside from the use of compression stockings which is widely recommended, there are other methods. However, these methods can be excruciatingly painful and expensive! They are medical procedures. They include:

  • Injections (where your physician can target and shut down specific veins responsible for the blood pools causing varicose veins).
  • Use of heat or lasers, mostly on smaller veins.
  •  Complete removal of the veins using minute dermal punctures.

Clinical Studies on Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins

Several studies have proven the significant effect of compression stockings in alleviating varicose veins. Research by dermatology associates, Robert Weiss and Scott Adam, indicated the use of compression hosiery as a significantly effective means of preventing and managing varicose veins and its related symptoms. The recommended hosieries are compression stockings with graduated pressures of 20-30mm Hg, 30-40mm Hg, 15-20mm Hg and 8 -15mm Hg.

A 2014 study also confirmed the positive effect of wearing graduated compression stocking, as a means of reducing the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and edema.

The use of compression stockings with graduated pressures of 18-21mm Hg for a week has also been identified by a 2018 study to be helpful in reducing varicose veins associated symptoms compared to the wear of conventional stockings.

Benefits of Compression Stockings

Coupled with our highlights on the associated symptoms of varicose veins, as well as the cost of managing and treating varicose veins, here are some benefits of compression stockings:

  1. Save on good cost compared to other methods of treatment
  2. Cosmetic benefits: Blood flow stimulation created by applied pressure of compression stockings positively affects superficial veins that are visible beneath the skin. This gets you your confidence and comfort.
  3. Relief from pain and swelling in the affected regions.
  4. Prevention of disfiguration of veins from pressure applied to support muscles.
  5. Quick recovery mechanism from surgeries (knee replacements, sclerotherapy, and endovenous procedures).

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What Compression stockings are Ideal?

Confused about which kind would be best for your needs?

wearing the idela compresion socks size

Your choice of compression stocking will be dependent on the root cause of your varicose veins as highlighted by your physician. Other factors such as the prescription of the amount of pressure and type of compression hosiery will also come into play.

Ideally aside from the graduation of the compression hosiery, they are based on the following criteria:

  • Prescription of stockings: Unarguably these types pf compression stockings are based on the choices of your physician and are fitted on you by then to ensure the stockings are as effective as they should be. Not too tight to cut off your circulation.
  • Pantyhose: Although they apply the least amount of pressure, they still exert some amount of force. Compression pantyhose are accessible in various stores.
  • Compression stockings/socks: They are available in graduated forms and as such exert much pressure than the pantyhose support. The compression stockings are accessible in the form of thigh-high and knee-highs. The thigh-high compression stockings are often recommended if you’re recovering from surgery or having varicose veins. However, the knee-high stockings are often worn during exercises to promote blood circulation

How to Use Compression Stockings

It is often recommended that you be properly informed and have an understanding of the working mechanism of compression socks as a therapy. Typically, it aims to reduce the size of veins by diameter while increasing the amount and speed of blood flow upwards towards the heart. Hence, it is important the right size of the compression hosiery is worn.

This can be done with the help of medical personnel to preclude any complications. About four main criteria should be watched out for when making a choice on compression stockings.

  1. Compression fit
  2. Ease of wear: By this, we mean that the choice of stockings should be worn without a struggle, otherwise it could be counter-productive.
  3. Presence of infection: it is often of medical advice to not wear items that can aggravate infections. Your physician should be consulted on this, especially if it concerns getting compression stockings.
  4. Allergy to stockings materials: This can be nylon, elastane or even cotton and much more.

What to Take Note of

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you manage or prevent against varicose vein using compression hosiery.

  1. Always ensure your compression stockings are properly fitted. They should be snug but comfortable.
  2. Keep by all instruction on how to put on and take off the compression stockings
  3. Be vigilant for skin changes that could be sensitive to the compression stockings material.
  4. If you do feel the need to go for an elastic bandage, only do so with your physician’s advice.

Compression stockings, when worn for the right reasons, should be worn at the prescribed length of hours and specific periods. For varicose veins, it is often worn at night with the feet up to ease circulation.

Overall sticking to a healthy lifestyle and practicing a preventive form of healthcare through the use of compression hosieries such as compression stockings are ideal, pocket worthy and effective means to varicose veins. Why not save yourself time and resources!

Want to Stop Leg Swelling Now?

ComproGear Compression Socks are designed to stop swelling instantly!

Click the button below to see the lineup of ComproGear Compression Socks:

Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins – (Treat and Prevent Ugly Veins!)

Whether you’ve just discovered your first varicose vein appearing on your legs, you’ve got quite a few, or you don’t have any and you want to keep it that way–it’s time to consider wearing compression socks.

Varicose veins and spider veins can not only be painful, but they can be hazardous to your health.

They may appear due to spending a lot of time on your feet, or you may simply be predisposed to them genetically. In any case, compression socks may just be the answer that you’ve been looking for!

What Are Varicose Veins?

Before we can understand how compression stockings work for varicose veins, let’s take a closer look at this condition.

Graphic of varicose and healthy veins

Varicose veins are swollen and twisted veins caused by weak vessel walls and which leads to pooling of blood in certain areas. These can occur in various parts of the body but are most common in the legs, due to the effects of gravity on the blood.

Varicose veins might appear as clusters of blue or purple veins visible underneath the skin and are sometimes surrounded by thin red capillaries known as spider veins.

These types of veins can not only be unsightly for the person who wants to wear shorts and skirts, but they can also be rather uncomfortable and even painful.

Graphic of medical facts

Symptoms of Varicose Veins:

  • Veins appear to be dark purple or blue in color
  • Superficial blood vessels protrude prominently from the skin (like earthworms) and are lumpy or nodular
  • Swelling in the legs, discoloration, desquamation, itching of the skin, and edema in the ankles
  • Various sensations in the lower extremities like itchiness, numbness, muscle cramping, and burning
  • The temperature of the epidermis may rise and cause tenderness in the lower extremities
  • Risk of gangrene and ulcers around a varicose vein

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Normal veins vs unhealthy veins

Varicose veins are developed due to disrupted blood circulation, causing the blood to clot or pool in the vein in certain areas that are weaker.

As the blood flows from the feet back up to the heart, it must work against gravity and this can be challenging. People who have a tendency toward weak vein structure may find that the blood vessels simply can’t fight against gravity, the valve tends to collapse, and blood will have a tendency to flow backward and pool which creates the unsightly veins.

Healthy veins valves vs damaged veins valves

One of the most common causes of varicose veins developing is prolonged standing on a daily basis, which puts pressure on the veins in the legs.

Compression stockings/socks and other compression gear was created to combat diseases caused by poor blood circulation in the legs, one of the most common of which is Varicose Veins.

What are Compression Stockings?

The most important thing about compression socks is that they put pressure on the legs from the outside in order to stimulate blood flow and prevent the negative effects of gravity on the presence of fluid.

Compression stockings/socks are knitted from a variety of materials such as:
or other materials that naturally stretch.

Wearing nude circulation socks

Many of them consist of microfibers to create a sheer material that allows the skin to breathe in the best conditions while some premium ones have silver textile threads woven into them, which provide anti-microbial protection.

These fibers are produced in different combinations and thicknesses depending on the desired elasticity, softness and appearance of the hosiery. The fabric content, compression level, feel and appearance largely determine the purpose or use of the final stockings, socks or pantyhose products.

How do Compression Stockings Help Varicose Veins?

Graduated compression stockings/socks establish the highest compression pressure around the ankle and then the pressure is reduced as the sock moves up the leg. This is meant to fight against gravity and promote the pushing of blood and other fluids back up toward the body and the heart. This pressure from the outside of the sock gives extra support to the veins, keeping the valves from collapsing and promoting healthy blood flow.

Compression socks are most effective in the prevention of varicose veins before they start.

People who have jobs where they are on their feet a lot, or those who have a genetic tendency toward varicose veins, will benefit from wearing compression socks even if they don’t have varicose veins yet.

People who already have varicose veins will not likely find a cure from compression socks, but they will find relief from pain and discomfort.
In addition, the appearance of the knotty, colored veins will be improved.

Not only are compression stockings/socks the heroes of both prevention and the treatment of varicose veins, but they also are highly efficient in treating other conditions associated with poor leg health.

Conditions such as:

  • Edema (Leg Swelling, especially in pregnancy)
  • Lymphedema
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Athletic Injuries
  • Phlebitis
  • Lipodermatosclerosis
Black circulation socks

Other than treating the above conditions, compression stockings/socks are also very useful tools in preventing aches and pains that come from being on your feet for long periods of time, but they must be worn preventatively.

Compression socks are used by millions of people in the world, regardless of gender, occupation, and age.

With or without varicose veins, just about anyone could benefit from giving compression socks a try. As mentioned above, they are not only for patients suffering from poor leg health. Athletes, pilots, hairdressers, nurses, waitresses, avid travelers, and many other people may benefit from the use of compression socks.

Types and Lengths of Compression Stockings

Different types and lengths

Many types and lengths of compression stockings are available on the market today, each serving various needs of the user.

Compression pantyhose,
thigh-high stockings,
knee-high socks,
open-toe/close-toe compression stockings,
and versions that zip are all options for compression socks today.

Healthwise, these compression socks may serve various purposes and it is smart to talk to your doctor or pharmacist to help you decide which type of compression socks for varicose veins or other conditions is right for you.

Compression Socks Pressure Level Guide

Because compression socks are used by different people for different reasons, it is possible to get them in various levels of compression, from light to very strong.

Many compression stockings/socks are available for purchase over the counter or online, and there are also medical-grade socks that you can purchase in the pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription.

But if you decide to self-prescribe and purchase them online, you need to know what compression level suits you the best.

The measuring unit for compression socks is called “mmHg”, which stands for “millimeter of mercury”. (This is the same measurement used for blood pressure cuffs.)

Light compression

15-20 mmHg- Over the Counter

This low compression level is suitable for everyday wear to help with mild swelling and fatigued legs due to long periods of standing, sitting and traveling. This level is also great for the prevention and relief of minor to moderate varicose veins and spider veins. Flight attendants, teachers, frequent travelers, pilots, nurses and other professionals may benefit from these light compression socks.

Medium pressure level

20-30 mmHg- Medical Grade Class I

The 20-30 mmHg level of compression is the most widely used medical-grade and recommended by doctors for basic needs. This level of compression is great for treating moderate to severe varicose veins and spider veins. It is also suitable for patients who are recovering from venous surgery, as well as pregnant women during the third trimester.

High pressure level

30-40 mmHg- Medical Grade Class II

The 30-40 mmHg level of compression is a stronger medical grade class II that is recommended for severe leg health symptoms. It is used for patients with lymphedema, severe varicose veins, venous reflux disease, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) to prevent dangerous blood clots.

Very high compression

40-50 mmHg- Medical Grade Class III

The 40-50 mmHg level of compression provides the strongest compression level and is only used for extreme cases. This level of compression is generally indicated for severe varicose veins, venous stasis, wound management, lymphedema, and other severe lower limb diseases. Your doctor will inform you if you need this type of pressure in your compression socks.

Putting on skin color stockings

If you’ve been wondering about using compression socks for varicose veins, whether looking for prevention help or relief, then now is the time to get started!

It’s easy to order compression socks online, get them delivered to your door, and find relief from the stress and inconvenience of varicose veins in no time!