For some people with varicose veins, wearing compression stockings can help relieve symptoms, as well as slow the progression of developing more vein problems. They work by improving the flow of blood in your legs, which prevents pain and swelling and decreases your risk for developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The stockings fit somewhat snugly around your leg, and they are especially tight around the ankle and slightly looser as they reach the knee. You don’t need a prescription to buy them, so how do you know which ones to choose?
Where to Buy Compression Stockings
While you don’t need a prescription to buy compression stockings, in some cases your insurance my pay for them if your doctor does recommend you wear them. If you are paying for them on your own, be prepared to pay as little as $10 for a basic pair or up to $100 for name brands and higher compression rates. Shop for them at your local pharmacy, medical supply stores, and online.
The Four Main Compression Levels
When you do shop for them keep in mind that there are four main compression types:
- Mild compression (8-15 mmHg)
- Moderate compression (15-20 mmHg)
- Firm compression (20-30 mmHg)
- Extra firm compression (30-4- mmHg)
Mild Compression: Mild compression is an excellent choice if you are experiencing tired and achy legs, especially if you sit or stand for long periods of time for work. They may also relieve some minor swelling and help prevent the formation of varicose and spider veins.
Moderate Compression: Doctors typically recommend moderate compression for varicose vein relief and prevention. Like the mild compression stockings, they can relieve aches, pains, and swelling, but they can also help prevent DVT. If you choose sclerotherapy treatment, they may be used to help prevent your varicose veins from reappearing. Moderate compression is also ideal for traveling.
Firm Compression: For more severe varicose vein problems, you may choose firm compression. These stockings are typically prescribed after surgery and may also be used after sclerotherapy. They can help treat severe swelling, and even help with ulcer management.
Extra Firm Compression: Extra firm compression stockings is also used for severe varicose veins and extreme swelling. They can help prevent DVT, aid in ulcer management, and your doctor may prescribe them after surgery or sclerotherapy.
Measuring Your Leg
Before shopping, be sure to take your leg measurements first thing in the morning, preferably before getting out of bed. This way you get the true measurement of your leg without additional swelling. Be sure to measure the circumference of your ankle at the narrowest part, as well as the circumference of your calf at the widest part. Also, measure the length of your leg by sitting in a chair and placing your foot flat on the floor so that your knee is at a 90-dgree angle. Measure the distance from the bend in your knee to the floor. If you choose to wear thigh high or pantyhose style compression stockings, you will need to measure the entire length of your leg and the circumference of the widest part of your thigh.