Varicose veins aren’t always painful, but when they are, your legs may become easily fatigued and achy. One of the easiest ways to make your legs feel better — and work better, too — is to wear compression stockings. Compression stockings are woven with stretchy materials, which may include nylon, spandex, or rubber.
Jeffrey Gosin, MD, a skilled and caring vein specialist at Shore Vascular and Vein Center in Somers Point, New Jersey, usually recommends lifestyle changes first to improve your varicose veins. Here’s why compression stockings are one of the best investments you can make in keeping your legs strong, healthy, and pain-free.
Varicose veins need help
Varicose veins aren’t just a cosmetic problem; they’re blood vessels whose valves aren’t working properly anymore. Instead of pushing the blood forward and up toward your heart, so it can be infused with oxygen again, the valves allow blood to flow backward and stagnate.
This backward flow of blood behind the dysfunctional valve causes pooling in the veins, which is why varicose veins become enlarged and twisted. The backward flow of blood also means that your circulation is sluggish, which may make you feel sluggish, too.
The poor circulation can also make your legs ache and even itch. In some extreme cases, varicose veins lead to skin changes, including ulcers.
Compression stockings put pressure on your veins
Varicose veins are too large and too lax. The blood vessel walls aren’t muscular and strong anymore, so they can’t do their job effectively.
Compression stockings literally compress your varicose veins, which makes them smaller and reduces pooling. The gentle squeezing pressure on your veins forces the blood forward and upward, which helps normalize your circulation.
Another benefit is that compression stockings reduce swelling. The squeezing puts enough pressure on your tissues to reduce leakage from your blood vessels and increases absorption of excess fluid by your capillaries and lymph vessels.
Compression stockings keep you safe
Compression stockings help your blood circulate freely and continuously. This drastically reduces the risk of your forming a blood clot, which could break free and travel to your lungs or heart. A blood clot can lead to serious consequences, including an inability to breathe or a heart attack.
Even if you don’t have varicose veins, compression stockings are a good idea to keep your legs healthy and strong on long airline flights or if you have a sit-down job. Pilots and air hosts often wear compression stockings.
Athletes favor compression stockings, too, because the pressure aids their blood flow and boosts their performance. The increased blood flow also helps their muscles recover faster after a workout.
Compression stockings come in funky styles
You may not think “high fashion” when you think about compression stockings, but they do come in a variety of chic and fun models and styles to suit your needs. They’re available in different degrees of pressure, too. Some types of compression stockings are:
- Graduated — tighter at the ankle
- Knee high
- Thigh high
- Footies only
- Compression tights (good for athletes)
All compression stockings are made of stretchy material that allows you to slip them on easily. Once in place, the stockings retract, putting pressure on your feet and legs.
You can find all kinds of online stores that offer compression socks, stockings, and tights in every color and pattern imaginable. You don’t have to worry about the stigma associated with compression stockings, either. Women and men of all ages who take their health seriously often wear compression stockings when working out or sitting for long periods of time.
You don’t have to wear them all day, either, especially at first. You may need to “break in” your socks, so just wear them for a few hours until you get used to them.
Of course, if compression stockings don’t give you the relief you seek from varicose veins, Dr. Gosin offers a number of other treatment options, too. He may recommend removing your varicose veins entirely. Once the damaged veins are gone, your circulation reroutes itself to healthier veins to improve the health, function, and appearance of your legs.
Find out if compression stockings and other lifestyle changes are the right first-line treatment for your varicose veins. Call us at 609-297-5992, or use the handy online contact form to request an appointment.