If you suffer from varicose veins, you will understand that they are not just a cosmetic problem. Yes, varicose veins in the legs can be very unsightly, especially in summer when you would prefer to wear shorter clothing and bare legs. But they can also be very painful and impinge on your quality of life. Varicose veins may also lead to broader health issues such as blood clots and ulcers. Surgery is the ideal management option. But how can wearing compression stockings help?
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins can occur throughout the body, but are by far most common in the lower legs. They are visible veins located just below the surface of the skin.
Veins take oxygen-depleted blood from the body tissues back to the heart (as opposed to arteries which carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the tissues throughout the body). Blood does not flow as strongly in veins as it does through arteries, and much of the time (especially in the legs) it is flowing in the opposite direction as gravity.
Veins have small valves which prevent blood from flowing backwards. Varicose veins occur when blood collects in the valves or the valves fail. This causes blood to pool or even flow in the wrong direction, and it occurs most often in the legs and feet, as these are furthest from the heart. The condition is also seen in the pelvis, arms, and rectum.
Varicose veins in the legs can lead to swollen, bulging, unsightly blue or purple veins seen through the skin, swelling in the legs, aching, heaviness, restless legs, cramps, itching, and even ulcers.
Types of Varicose Vein Treatment
The most effective varicose vein treatment will permanently close the vein to blood flow. As only 2% of the blood in the legs flows through the veins which can become varicose, the body will accommodate this change very easily. At Crows Nest Vein Clinic, we achieve this through Endovenous Laser Ablation or Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy.
Compression stockings or socks may help reduce some of the painful symptoms of varicose veins, as well as minimizing their appearance.
What are Compression Socks?
Medical grade compression socks or stockings may offer some relief from the symptoms of varicose veins. They will not, however, eliminate varicose veins – only minimally invasive vein treatments or surgery can achieve this.
How do Compression Socks Work?
The socks (worn to the knee) or stockings (worn to the thigh) work by gently and consistently compressing the veins in the lower legs. They improve circulation by stimulating blood flow and minimizing swelling by creating an upwards squeezing effect, especially at the ankles.
Compression socks can:
- Reduce aches and pain caused by varicose veins
- Prevent pooling and DVT clot formation during periods of inactivity (e.g. when flying, sitting, standing for long periods, and during surgery)
- Control leg swelling during pregnancy in women with existing varicose veins
There are different grades of compression socks/stockings, and they are prescribed depending on the individual condition.
When Should Compression Socks be Used to Relieve Pain?
Compression socks may be suitable for you if you have untreated varicose veins, ankle swelling, deep vein insufficiency, and during recovery after varicose vein treatment. They are also highly recommended if you have painful legs or varicose veins and work in certain professions which involve extended periods sitting or standing, including nurses, retail and cashier workers, flight attendants, teachers, hairdressers, and sedentary jobs (e.g. office, truck drivers, etc).
There are lightweight compression socks and stockings available for purchase over the counter in pharmacies and online; compression socks for varicose vein relief will usually be prescribed by a doctor and are tight enough to be very effective without negatively impacting circulation.
Are there any risks associated with Wearing Compression Stockings?
- Compression socks may be difficult to put on as they are intentionally tight.
- Skin needs to be clean and dry.
- Compression socks may induce broken skin, irritation, discomfort, and even temporary dents in the skin surface.
- Compression socks must be fitted correctly. If they are not tight enough, they ill be useless. If they are too tight, they can damage the nerves in the legs and inhibit circulation.
- You need to check your legs daily if you use compression socks and ensure they are not causing damage or irritation.
- Compression socks need to be replaced every three to six months. You may need to wear them at night as well as during the day.
Book With Crows Nest Vein Clinic Today
Are you struggling with varicose veins? Would you love to reveal new, vein-free legs this summer?
Winter is the perfect time to have varicose veins treated. It takes several weeks to months for the best results of varicose vein treatment to appear, so now is the time to book a consultation with our top Sydney vein specialist, Dr Nicole James. When you have vein treatment in the next month or two, you will be all set to reveal your refreshed, improved legs for summer – and you’ll feel better in the summer heat as well!
Dr Nicole James is passionate about what she does and committed to delivering gold standard, compassionate care. She has specialist training and expertise to achieve the best possible results for her patients.