Venous insufficiency — a condition characterized by veins with faulty valves — affects as many as 40% of the American population, according to the experts at the Cleveland Clinic. When the valves in your veins don’t work properly, the blood in your legs has a hard time getting back up to the heart. As a result, the blood flows backward and forms pools in your veins. This leads to the development of varicose veins, but it can also cause leg cramping, numbness, and tenderness.
Because venous insufficiency can impact your day-to-day life, it’s important to take action to improve your vascular health. Early intervention, such as wearing compression stockings, not only helps manage these symptoms but also helps to prevent the condition from worsening. That’s why our health care professionals at Advanced Vein & Laser Center recommend you come in to see us if you’re concerned about your veins.
Our physicians at Advanced Vein & Laser Center are happy to offer both conservative and surgical solutions for vein conditions. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of compression stockings.
What are compression stockings?
Compression stockings may look like regular tube socks, but these stretchy stockings apply a specific amount of pressure to your calves. Compression stockings are designed to improve circulation in your legs, prevent swelling, and help reduce your risk of blood clots.
Compression stockings are available in varying pressures, heights, and designs:
- Pressure strength: Low-to-high pressure (e.g., 20 mm Hg)
- Type of compression: Gradient compression stockings provide more pressure near the foot and less pressure higher up the leg (e.g., 20–30 mm Hg)
- Design: Tube stockings without the foot or full stockings with the foot
- Stocking height: Knee- or thigh-high
What type of compression stockings you need depends on the severity of your venous insufficiency.
How do compression stockings work?
Normally, blood flows up through the leg in order to return to the heart. Both the compression of your calf muscles and the valves in your veins help encourage the blood to flow up against gravity, but if your veins aren’t working (or if you are sedentary), problems may arise. Compression stockings assist by offering the necessary pressure to encourage blood flow.
As the stockings exert pressure on your legs, the blood flow is encouraged to flow in the correct direction.
Just like the natural motion of walking causes your calf muscles to squeeze the veins, compression stockings also put pressure on your legs. The stockings improve circulation in your legs because they help the veins in your legs work more efficiently. When the blood from your legs returns to your heart, it can receive oxygen and become oxygenated.
As a bonus, the improved circulation helps to prevent fatigue in your legs.
Swelling in both your feet and legs can be one of the first signs of venous insufficiency. Walking can help reduce mild swelling, but compression stockings can also reduce swelling. When the stockings exert pressure on your legs, blood is pushed upward. When the blood doesn’t have the chance to pool, there is less fluid build-up and less swelling.
Preventing blood clots
Blood clots pose a big threat to your overall vascular health, but studies show that compression stockings reduce the risk of blood clots. Because the stockings keep your blood moving, there’s a smaller chance that the blood will pool or form a clot.
Keeping your follow-up appointments
Compression stockings work to improve your circulation, but stockings aren’t the only way to improve your vascular health. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can also improve your vascular health. However, more serious cases of venous insufficiency may require additional treatments like sclerotherapy so it’s important to keep your follow-up appointments with Dr. Heird and Dr. Winand to make sure you’re getting the treatments you need.
At Advanced Vein & Laser Center, we’re proud to offer vascular care to individuals in Lancaster and York, Pennsylvania. If you have concerns about your veins, we’re here to help you get the care you need. Request an appointment by calling the location of your choice. Alternatively, try our easy-to-use online booking tool.