What’s The Deal With Compression Stockings?
At Northern Michigan Vein Specialists, most of our procedures are followed by the patient wearing compression stockings for a period of time afterwards. Since most people have never worn compression stockings, they wonder what’s up with this leg-squeezing hosiery? Here’s some info on compression stockings and why we love them.
How Compression Stockings Work
Medical-grade compression hose are designed to be stronger in the feet and gradually diminish in pressure as they extend up the calf into the thigh. These stockings and socks promote the venous blood flow from the feet upward, by helping support the veins and surroundings tissues. They do this by preventing venous blood from pooling in the legs and feet. This improves vein health and decreases the risk of blood clots from forming.
Compression hose basically add strength to what your muscles and surrounding tissues are supposed to do. Since the veins return de-oxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs, they have an uphill climb in the lower body. Gravity is a constant impediment. To help the veins move the blood upward, the muscles and tissues in the feet and legs squeeze the veins. But as we get older, our muscles and tissues weaken, and they provide less support to the veins. This is why the blood is able to pool and create problems such as varicose veins and spider veins.
Compression hosiery simply supplies some of that squeezing that our muscles and support tissues used to do a better job of.
When Do You Wear Them?
It helps to think about what the compression stockings are doing to know when to wear them. Since the veins don’t have trouble moving blood when we are lying flat, you don’t wear compression hose at night in bed. But when you’re up and about, that’s when you wear them. They should go on when you wake up in the morning, right when you get out of bed. You shouldn’t wait until later in the morning to put them on — by that point blood will already have pooled in the lower legs and feet.
What If I Don’t Have Varicose Veins?
If you still have good blood flow and your valves (that prevent blood backflow) are still functioning well, you may think that wearing compression hosiery isn’t necessary. While they may not be “necessary” they are still a good idea, particularly if your occupation keeps you on your feet or sitting for long periods of time. At Northern Michigan Vein Specialists, we view compression hose as a preventive measure, right along with regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, elevating your legs when possible, and not wearing high heels too frequently.