Do Compression Stockings Really Work?
You may have visited our office and found compression stockings available for purchase. You may have also heard about people who swear by these stockings when they fly, sit at work or at home for long periods of time – or have a job or hobby that requires them to stand in the same place for quite a while. But do compression stockings really work? The short answer is that it depends; but for many patients, they can work wonders.
In the medical setting, especially after a surgical procedure, compression stockings are invaluable. Blood can begin to pool in the legs and potentially cause deep vein thrombosis or DVT after surgery. For patients that are at risk of this occurring, we often place compression on their lower legs which rhythmically helps pump blood back to the heart. Compression socks can also reduce the diameter of some major veins and improve blood flow.
We have all heard of the risks of flying and DVT and you most likely have noticed that your ankles swell and after a long flight. If you work long hours sitting behind a desk, or even watch TV for an extended time and are not able to keep your feet elevated — or if you have a condition that causes pooling of blood in your lower legs, your cardiologist may suggest that you wear compression stockings at certain times.
Compression stockings come in various forms including graduated, anti-embolism and non-medical. Each offer results and can be very useful for patients at risk of blood clots, some vein issues and venous ulcers.
It sounds like compression stockings are the answer
First, compression stockings should not be used if you have severe vascular disease.
Further, for all their benefits, compression socks do have one potential downside and that is when they are not fitted properly. We do not want compression just for the sake of it. Rather, the compression must be graduated and must be custom fit to the patient. Ill-fitting compression socks may increase the risk of a blood clot or circulation issues.
So, if you would like to learn more about whether compression stockings make sense for you, please discuss this with your cardiologist on your next visit.