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Compression Stockings

compression stockings Compression

Compression stockings are used to support the venous system in the legs. They offer graduated compression, which means the pressure they apply at the ankle is greater than at the thigh, and decreases gradually as you move upwards. This graduation acts to squeeze fluids (blood and lymph) up and out of the legs. Medical compression stockings can be useful for everything from mild swelling to more serious venous disease (including prevention of deep vein thrombosis). They are generally worn throughout the day, and for extended periods of time.

Most insurance companies require use of compression stockings (or some other conservative therapy) prior to authorizing any surgical (or minimally-invasive) varicose vein treatment. Additionally, medical compression stockings are commonly used post-operatively for many vein treatments (e.g. sclerotherapy, EVLT®, Closure® procedure, phlebectomy) to aid in healing.

Today’s compression stockings are available from a number of different manufacturers and come in a variety of sizes, styles, and colors to meet most any individual preference. Common levels for graduated compression stockings include:

  • Over the Counter: 10-15 mmHg, 15-20 mmHg
  • Prescription-Only: 20-30 mmHg, 30-40 mmHg, 40-50 mmHg
  • Knee-high, thigh-high, pantyhose and maternity styles are usually available.


Wear and Care of Compression Stockings

It is important to utilize a trained fitter when measuring legs to achieve proper sizing of compression stockings. Additionally, care should be taken when ‘donning’ (putting on) compression stockings to avoid wrinkles and bunching, as these may affect compression levels and comfort. Most manufacturers provide detailed donning instructions and may have accessories to facilitate the process. Compression stockings can be washed much like normal clothing. Talk to your vein specialist about how to care for your stockings.

Wearing medical compression stockings (especially routinely) often requires a bit of getting used to, both because application (donning) can be difficult and due to the new sensations of continual compression. Suggested approaches include starting with wearing them a few hours each day and then ramping up to full daily use. Many patients find they really improve how their legs feel.

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