Varicose Vein Treatment: How Compression Stockings Are Fitted*

*This is a collaborative post*

Compression stockings are often used as an important part of varicose vein treatment under a doctor's care. Sometimes people confuse compression stockings with support hose but they are not the same and so should not be thought of in the same way. Compression stockings are are a prescription treatment, prescribed by Phlebologists, specialists who work on vein diseases. On the other hand, support hose are more like an over the counter health aide that does not require a doctor's prescription. Using compression stockings without the guidance of a qualified doctor can actually be dangerous to your health.

Compression stockings are often an important part of what is called "conservative" varicose vein treatment. This is home treatment that can be tried to relieve the symptoms of varicose veins, such as itchiness and burning, without the doctor actually performing treatment directly on the varicose veins. This type of varicose vein treatment is often the first thing that is tried after a duplex ultrasound examination reveals varicose veins in a vein clinic, like Metro Vein Centers, when the varicose vein condition is not so severe as to warrant immediate varicose vein treatment.

Some insurance companies actually require that conservation varicose vein treatment be tried for a certain amount of time, often six months, before they will cover the major types of varicose vein treatment commonly performed at vein clinics like Metro Vein Centers. These treatments include EVLT, pulsed light therapy, sclerotherapy, and mini-phlebectomy. Compression stockings may be used in combination with anti-inflammatory medications, daily elevation of legs, dietary changes, and exercise as an overall conservative varicose vein treatment. In many cases, conservative varicose vein treatment will improve symptoms some but not enough to delay any longer the minimally invasive treatments listed above.

It should also be noted that compression stockings are also an important part of the recovery period for most types of varicose vein treatment. Phlebologists performing procedures like EVLT and sclerotherapy will almost always require their patients to wear compression stocking for at least a 24-48 hour period after the procedure. This not only serves to reduce pain, the pressure exerted by compression stocking prevents any veins from opening up and bleeding out after the procedure. They also help the body reabsorb what's left of the varicose veins left inside the body.

Getting exactly the fit right is one of the most important factors in how effective compression stockings will be at reducing symptoms and in aiding a patient after varicose vein treatment or during conservative varicose vein treatment. To ensure a good fit, precise measurements of the legs are taken. In other words, this is not just about asking "What size do you wear?" and hoping the patient knows the size or simply guessing the right size.

The timing of when the patient's legs are measured are also very important in getting a precise fit for compression stockings. The patient will be asked to lie down for a while, at least fifteen minutes or longer, to reduce any edema (swelling in the leg) that may have started that day and may exaggerate the size needed when measurements are taking. In fact, the best time to do the measurements is early morning before the patient has been standing a lot and before they have have been vertical for too long.

If measurements of the leg are taken when the legs are swollen from edema, the size of the compression stockings prescribed for varicose vein treatment or recovery will be too large to do much good early in the day when edema is not as great. When a person sleeps horizontally, veins do not have to work as hard against gravity and edema tends to go down. If the person then puts on their compression stockings that are too large in the morning, these stockings will not be able to protect against edema early in the day, as they move around early, which is the most important time in fact to have the proper fit.

While over the counter "compression stockings" (non-prescription "compression stockings") are usually rated at a pressure of ten to fifteen mmHg, the pressure applied in a varicose vein treatment clinic, such as Metro Vein Centers, will usually be twenty mmHg of pressure or higher. In fact, the pressure for compression stockings can go up to fifty mmHg, depending on the needs of the patient. However, these higher pressure compression stockings should never be applied by an amateur at home because, if they are not fitted correctly, they could block blood flow in the arteries, veins, and capillaries or cause other serious medical issues.

*This guest post was contributed on behalf of Metro Vein Centers

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