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Varicose Veins Stockings Indispensable In Treating Your Veins

Varicose veins stockings may almost seem irrelevant in treating your veins.  But they provide comfort and much better results with your treatment.  Plus prevent life-threatening complications.

Varicose veins stockings come in a variety of styles and colours.  But generally they are a thicker weave than standard stockings.  A thigh high stay up example.Most common stay up type

From another point of view they may sound like something to be dreaded or avoided.  Especially for most guys.  More so those in trades working in shorts.

They cannot be hidden and may make you feel rather conspicuous.

I remember one person I was seeing who told me about an incident at his bowling club committee meeting. 

One member announced that there were a pair of pantyhose in the car park.  To which he quickly responded.  “Well they’re not mine.  I’m wearing them!”

Amusing.  But revealing the ambivalence many guys will feel at having to wear them.

For most women too these days stocking wearing is not as common.

Difference From Regular Stockings

Also good compression stockings producing the best results with vein treatments are thicker, of a higher denier, than regular dress stockings.

They are also denser and firmer than flight socks.  And vastly different from TED anti-embolism stockings.  More on that later.

Experience In Varicose Vein Treatments

Most people tell me that the hardest part in all their treatment is having to wear varicose veins stockings. 

Varicose veins stockings showing a black thigh high self supporting stay up top with enclosed toe.Closed toe black stay up version

There may some discomfort with the treatment.  But it is brief involving the session time only.  Maybe with a little discomfort afterwards for a short time. 

Whereas post vein treatment compression stockings need to be worn for quite a few days, usually weeks, to be effective.

Fortunately there is a range of styles and colours as well which can make your experience a little more tolerable.

Who would wear varicose veins stockings?

Wearing Varicose Veins Stockings As A Test

You can use them as a sort of diagnostic test.

If you are experiencing discomfort or other symptoms you think might be associated with your veins you can wear them for a day or so and go without for a another day or two.  Then repeat the sequence.

Varicose vein related pains, cramps, restless legs and other symptoms I mention on the page about them will tend to stop the days you wear the varicose veins stockings.  Then return on the days you don’t.

By repeating the times wearing and not using them you can lessen the possibility the improvements could be due to chance.

Why would you do this?

Quite a few people would like to know treating their problem veins will relieve symptoms that have been bothering them.  That way they can be reassured any inconvenience, discomfort or cost they bear going through the treatment is going to be worth it.

A Supportive Option

For many years, when surgery was the only option, with its attendant risks and maybe limited access, people would wear varicose veins stockings to prevent complications arising.

Yes, that would be inconvenient.  They needed to be worn every day you were sitting or on your feet.  Especially in summer when heat related increased skin circulation would make the veins worse.

But it was better than doing nothing.  Especially in preventing skin problems, ankle swelling and ulcers.  Not to mention pain.

Their Function In Effective Treatment

These days though practically everyone can access treatment. 

Then varicose veins stockings wearing is required only after each treatment session.

So what are they doing?

Effectively they are redirecting blood flow.  Treatment is aimed at closing the damaged blood vessels down.  As they close we wish to avoid blood tracking back down the vessel. 

Much like holding an incision wound together with sutures or staples.  With time the healing section becomes stronger and stronger.  Blood will no longer be able to break open or separate the healing surfaces.

In redirecting blood flow varicose veins stockings greatly lessen trapping of blood in the closing segments. 

It also increases flow through the deep veins, reducing deep vein thrombosis risk. 

When done correctly deep vein clots occur very rarely with laser and sclerotherapy treatment of varicose veins.  But it can occur. 

In all the years I have been treating them I have not yet had a patient with one.  Part of that good outcome is from insisting on wearing the varicose veins stockings.  That and regular walking after treatment.

Surgery always carries much more risk.  Increased tissue trauma and immobility while under anaesthesia all contribute to an increased chance of deep vein clotting.

Type Of Stockings In Treatments

What stockings are required following varicose vein treatments?

Those known as Class II stockings are the usual requirement.

Class number relates to the amount of pressure the stocking exerts at your ankle.  Exact pressure values can vary with manufacturer and sometimes countries.  But there is a general agreement.

Class II should exert around 23-32 mm Hg pressure at the ankle.  Class I stockings, used most commonly as flight socks, are designed to produce 18-21 mm Hg.

Stocking classes go on to III and IV for other problems like lymphoedema where more pressure may be required to counteract the problem.

These stockings are all graduated in their compression. Tighter at the ankle, decreasing in pressure going up the leg.

This allows for more efficient return of venous blood back to your heart.  Especially when you are upright, whether sitting or standing.

Comparison With Post Surgical Stockings

Varicose veins stockings are different from the usual post surgical TED ones for preventing deep vein clotsTED post surgical stocking

As I mentioned above post surgical anti-embolism or TED stockings are not adequate in pressure nor of the right graduation for use after varicose vein treatments.

They are really designed for people recovering in bed after surgery.  They do not supply the same benefit when you are up on your feet.  Even though they are often worn then too.

Most people will recognise these from their own or family members’ times after surgery.  Generally white and more stretchy than varicose veins stockings.

Range Of Styles

What style to they come in?

Varicose veins stockings showing a below knee versionBelow knee version

There’s a range.  From open toed to covered toe, below knee to thigh high with or without a self-supporting top - like stay ups.

Then there are those with a supporting belt to go around the waist or hip area to reduce stocking sliding.

Being graduated in compression there can be a natural tendency for them to slowly work their way down your leg as you walk.

The self supporting tops generally have an internal layer of silicone that grips or clings to your skin. 

This can become drier and lose grip strength. 

Maybe counter-intuitively, moisturising your legs especially under the silicone will restore grip very well.

Varicose veins stockings showing a silicone grip top and a cotton with silver thread inner lining.Variation of silicone grip and inside fibre variation

Stretching the silicone section of the stocking can result in it creeping back down creating a rash or reaction. 

Nearly always this is the cause of such a local skin change rather than a reaction to the silicone itself.

Then there is the pantyhose style.  They are available.

But with Class II compression stockings being very firm they can be a mission to put on.  You need to advance each side in stages.

They can also prove difficult when you need to get to the bathroom and with bathing as you will understand from the section explaining how and when they are worn.

Variety Of Colours

Varicose veins stockings showing a belt support for the waist area with the more usual open toeVariation With Belted Waist Support

There is an increasing range of colours being produced.  The extent and actual colours available will vary with the supplier.

Some styles are produced in just one standard colour.  But most will have a least a brown or nude-like colour and a black.

The fabrics are usually an elastane (or nylon) with lycra specially woven for predictable circumferential and length stretch.

Some styles also have other fabrics woven into the internal layer.  Like cotton threads which allow for better skin comfort and breathing. 

Silver threads are supposed to increase skin healing.

Availability And Cautions

Due to the significant compression produced by class II varicose veins stockings they are usually available only through clinics and other centres with qualified staff.  They need to check a few essential points.

The pressure the varicose veins stockings generate can compromise blood supply to areas in the feet and lower legs, particularly at night, in people with decreased arterial perfusion. 

Atherosclerosis and similar changes will reduce arterial circulation.  Such problems are more common in older, diabetic patients and with some hereditary disorders.

Therefore your arterial circulation needs to be confirmed as adequate to allow stocking use.

They need to be carefully fitted for your leg size.  Measurements of at least your ankle, calf in a couple of places, and thigh circumference for longer stockings need to be taken.  This will determine the appropriate size stocking for you.

Quality stockings will have more accurate pressure supply.

Some people with legs outside the normal range might need bespoke fitting stockings specially made for them.  This will take some time and require extra measurements.

Quality ones will also last longer in wear and provide continued even pressure generation. 

Although they are robust they will run if snagged.  Therefore you need appropriate footwear on any surface that could have any rough elements including carpet which may have tacks near the surface.

Likewise you need to exercise care in putting them on and adjusting any slide occurring while you are wearing them.  Too vigorous pulling can result in your fingers creating a hole.

Putting Them On

You will be shown how to put them on. 

Due to their compression they will be a challenge if you attempt to apply them in same way you do with regular stockings. 

Bunched up areas, particularly over the feet and ankles, will multiply local tightness to the point you cannot advance them.

Wearing Them After Vein Treatment

How long do you need to wear them for?

There have been trials to determine the ideal time to wear varicose veins stockings after treatment.  Obviously the result is an average for a population.  Healing rates will vary.

In the past they were often worn for six weeks at a stretch.  Sometimes people will be recommended still to do so following surgery.

But for post sclerotherapy and laser treatments there seemed to be no added benefit in outcome past two weeks.

Therefore for nearly all treatments I advise you to wear them for two weeks after each session.

Usually this is twenty-four hours a day for the first week.  Then only while you are on your feet, or out of bed, for the second.

Within that first week I also advise you to wear them in the shower for the initial three days.  As you are standing doing so it gives effective support and blood redirection in those few days.

After three days there is enough healing strength in the vessels to allow ten or fifteen minutes on your feet without the compression stockings. 

They need to be applied afterwards.  Which can be tricky with your legs often still being slightly moist.  One reason quite a few people elect to leave them on for showering for the full week.

I used to recommend covering the varicose veins stockings during showering to keep them dry.

But there were a few people who swam every day and wished to keep doing so.  They just had to wear their stockings when they did so.

They informed me that with only a towel dry the stockings would dry completely on their legs, being on warm skin and effectively stretched, within ten minutes. 

They could reduce this to two minutes with adding a hair dryer.

You just need to be careful to avoid holding the hair drier too close to the fabric and possibly melting it.

In this way the stockings get clean at the same time.  Drying is much quicker than when they are washed overnight in the stocking-free night time.

In the second week you can remove your stockings just before going to bed.  Even without them on you can stand at the hand-basin to wash them. 

By hanging them over a heated towel rail or in the hot water closet, they should dry overnight.

If you need to get up for any reason through the night or for showering you can spend around twenty minutes on your feet without any support.

In the week when you need to wear the stockings overnight and for some reason you find you cannot get to sleep with them on there is an out.  While lying on the bed you can remove your stockings. 

However if you need to get up for any reason during the night you will need to put the varicose vein stockings on, before you jump out, while your legs are still elevated on the bed.

Using your varicose veins stockings as recommended will produce the best long term outcome in your treatments. 

By doing so you may never have to wear them again in the future.

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