At Artemis we take pride in our minimally-invasive approach to treating venous disease. Prior to receiving any vein treatment, each patient is asked to wear compression stockings for three months. Many people have an antiquated notion of what compression stockings are, and they may not understand the role they play in vein treatment. That’s why we’ve asked Lisa Alexander, our certified medical assistant, to answer common questions about compression stockings.
Compression stockings help alleviate symptoms of venous disease such as fatigue, swelling, and pain. The stockings improve circulation by adding additional support to the veins and making it easier for them to return blood to the heart. This prevents blood pooling in the legs and weakening the veins over time.
The main purpose of compression stockings is to use pressure to push fluid upward and increase circulation in your legs. You can understand this as if you have an additional layer of muscles which are gently squeezing the stretched vein walls and hereby allowing the valves to close. Socks vary in size and tightness depending on the needs of the individual. They can range anywhere from knee height to hip height depending on severity and needs. Typically, we as your doctors will determine how tight the stocking should be, as well as the most appropriate height for your condition. Stockings should typically be replaced every 3-6 months, and it is advised that you put on your compression stockings first thing in the morning and wear them throughout the day for the best results.
If a person is already in the early stages of venous disease, the stockings will not reverse the condition. They will, however, slow the progression of the disease and help relieve some of the resulting symptoms such as pain or fatigue.
Many people assume compression stockings are unattractive and cumbersome to wear. This might have been true in the past, but it’s no longer the case! Now many compression stockings look just like regular socks or other hosiery and come in a variety of colors, patterns, and styles. People probably won’t even notice you’re wearing them. We can always help you find the type that will best fit your needs and lifestyle.
Another misconception is that compression stockings are only worn by “older” patients, but that’s just not true. If someone is taking a long flight, or if they have a job where they have to sit or stand for long periods of time, the stockings can help prevent the swelling and discomfort that often results. Even athletes wear compression stockings to increase circulation when they train.
Wearing the stockings should not be painful. The word “compression” makes them sound uncomfortable, but really wearing compression stockings is a pain-free strategy for improving circulation and preparing for vein treatment. We make sure to find the proper fit, and can always make adjustments in the rare case that it’s necessary. It’s good to know, however, that the stockings can sometimes feel a little warm in the summer. That’s one reason starting vein treatment in the fall or winter months is a good idea because the stockings can provide extra warmth during the three-month period that we ask patients to wear them prior to treatment.
Generally, a person will be fine wearing stockings that are 15-20 mmHg, but we recommend that anyone considering stockings consult first with their personal physician or a vein specialist. A medical professional will help ensure that you get the correct pressure and fit.
Yes, and in fact, every patient that comes to Artemis for treatment is first fitted for compression stockings before we proceed with ultrasound mapping. In addition, insurance companies require patients to first go through a trial of wearing compression stockings before the patient receives further treatment.
Yes! When I know that I’ll be on my feet at work for most of the day I will make sure to put them on. In the few instances I have left home without them I really notice a difference in how tired my legs feel. It helps me remember next time!
I carefully take measurements at the ankle, calf, and thigh to make sure that we get the right fit from the start. Then, patients put them on to get a feel for them, and we address any questions or concerns they might have. People tell me that they feel a little “funny” at first, but soon it feels normal to wear them.
Most of our patients comment on how much better their legs feel while wearing the stockings. Many are surprised that they make such a difference. I always find it satisfying to know that this small intervention has made a positive difference for them. After providing venous disease treatment, we ask patients to continue wearing them for a brief period, and then many continue using them.
My top tip is to be patient when first getting used to them. I also recommend that anyone wearing the stockings make sure to give us a call if they have any questions. I’m always very happy to hear from our patients and to help!
If you have other questions about compression stockings for Lisa, then we hope you’ll give us a call. We would also be glad to discuss any symptoms like leg pain, fatigue, and swelling. We can schedule an appointment if you decide you are interested in treatment options.