Varicose veins occur when veins become enlarged and twisted. The term is generally used to describe the occurrences involving the veins of the legs, but they can really occur elsewhere. When the veins become varicose, this is generally because of a failure of the valves to work properly, allowing the blood to flow backwards, which causes the vein to become even more enlarged. This condition is obviously not very cosmetically pleasing, and is a great source of embarrassment to the patient. It is more prevalent in those individuals who stand for long periods, as the pressure of holding up the body for extended periods causes the superficial veins of the leg to go through this change. There can be some serious complications that occur from varicose veins, but most of the time, life-threatening complications are pretty uncommon. As such, while there are some surgical operations, including ablation of the problem vessels, most doctors and patients alike will opt for more conservative treatments and measures, such as compression stockings, in an attempt to treat these unsightly veins without having to employ surgical intervention. There are specific methods for the use of these medical stockings, and the doctor and patient will determine which method is best. Below, some of the less specific approaches will be discussed, and it will become clear that hosiery for varicose veins can be a very effective treatment that works for many patients, although not for all.
What Are Compression Stockings?
As mentioned above, these pressure stockings for varicose veins are generally preferred to start with because of their conservative approach. No medical procedure is necessary. What’s more, they are also very affordable, and can be purchased in just about any department store, drug store, or grocery store across the county. But what exactly are these medical stockings? Briefly defined, they are specialized hosiery designed to help prevent the occurrence of certain venous disorders, such as edema (swelling) and varicosity (varicose veins). They work by using very strong elastic to compress the limb while they are worn. They are tightest at the ankles and gradually become less restrictive at they move up the leg. The idea here is that as a result of the compression of the surface veins, the pressure inside the leg arteries is increased, which will result in more blood returning to the heart and less remaining behind in the leg to pool up. Using this reasoning, they are recommending in the treatment and management of varicose veins and smaller varicosities commonly referred to as “spider veins.”
Choosing the Correct Compression Stockings
Your doctor should give you some general recommendations as to what type of compression stocking will be best for treatment of your varicosities. There are several different classes of compression, ranging from over-the-counter options (10-15 mmHg) all the way to prescription products that are custom made (greater than 50 mmHg). In the United States, there are three distinct classes, with Class I ranging from 15-20 mmHg; Class II ranging from 20-30 mmHg; and Class 3, ranging from 30-40 mmHg. Again, your doctor will evaluate your individual condition and make an appropriate recommendation. However, in terms of general comfort based on surveys of those who wear these medical stockings, a compression level of approximately 15-20 mmHg can do wonders for varicosity and venous insufficiency, and are also well tolerated by the patients who wear them. This is very important, as if they are too uncomfortable, the patient will not use them and the goals of wearing them will not be achieved.
How to Use Compression Stockings
Compression stocking are generally made similar in appearance to regular socks. In cases of edema, the stocking should be applied before the leg has had a chance to allow the swelling to set in. Therefore, the ideal time is to put them on as soon as you get up in the morning, or right after drying yourself off if you take a shower. Many people experience issues with getting the stockings on. Rest assured, you are not alone. Many users have devised tips and tricks to this, almost perfecting their method to a science. For instance, one very effective way to ease getting these medical stockings on your legs is to lie down with your leg in the air. This causes all of that extra pooled blood to flow back into the body and leave the leg, reducing the swelling of the varicosity by a measurable amount. It is also important to note the one should never sleep in compression stocking or any type of hosiery for varicose veins unless you are specifically told to do so by your doctor.
Which Brand Should I Choose?
This can be a tough decision, as there are quite a few places in which to buy these compression stockings. They can be purchased at just about every department store in the nation, not to mention from a plethora of online vendors and medical supply stores. For the best brand, it will really come down to personal preference and budget, as each of the major brands carry a budget-friendly version as well as a higher-end version. With that said, most people will readily say that this is one product where the higher-end products really do make a difference, and to buy them if at all possible. Specifically, many people have written great reviews about the Therafirm EASE Open-Toe stockings and Sigvaris stockings. Sigvaris is the largest manufacturer of compression stockings in the world, and their expertise in the field allows them to focus quite a bit of research into their next generation products. The prices on Sigvaris stockings are somewhat high, but most people will agree that the quality of this brand of medical stocking is matched by none.
In close, the take-away here is that the most important suggestion for which compression stockings to use should be the suggestion and recommendation of your treating physician. After you have gotten used to wearing them and know what class of stocking you can tolerate, do a little research into the different brands available, including Therafirm and Sigvaris. When used correctly, these devices have the capability to be an effective adjuvant therapy in the conservative treatment and management of varicose veins, especially for those who do not wish to go under the knife.