What Does Compression Do
It increases blood flow to restore “fresh legs”!
Compression stockings are specialized socks that can be worn from the foot to the knee or thigh. In some cases, they come in the form of tights that reach up to the waist. They also come as “sleeves”, footless socks that stretch from the ankle to the knee. These specialized stockings have a gradient of pressure (tighter in the foot and gradually less so toward the knees or thighs.) When worn properly, these stockings reduce swelling in the feet and also improve venous circulation in the legs.
Compression stockings or socks are a conservative method of treating disorders such as Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), varicose veins, lymphedema and Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS) and they can also help prevent blood clots from forming in the legs. It is important to know that compression socks do not eliminate varicose veins. They just help control the discomfort that vein disease can cause.
Compression socks use a specialized weave of strong elastic to create pressure on the muscles in the legs, ankles and feet. This compression on surface veins forces blood out of the veins in the legs and back to the heart. This helps your legs feel lighter, and reduces pain and discomfort related to underlying vein disease.
Compression wear is called “graduated” because it is designed to apply more pressure in the ankle and foot and gradually decrease the pressure applied up the leg. This encourages the natural return of blood to the heart.
Some insurance requires that patients wear compression prior to procedures. Many of our patients also wear compression stockings after procedures on their legs. They help minimize bruising and clot formation in the treated veins. We recommend wearing them for about 10-14 days post procedure. We are proud to serve everyone from elite athletes to centenarians for compression socks and sleeves for health, exercise and travel.
How Compression Works
Compression socks are made of a strong specialized weave of elastic material that fits tightly at the feet and gradually becomes less tight at the knee or thigh. Contracting calf muscles (known as the “calf pump”) propel blood in the leg veins back to the heart. Combined with the use of graduated compression stockings, this limits pressure inside the veins. By reducing venous pressure, symptoms of vein disease are minimized.
Stockings only help when they are on. Ideally they are worn daily when upright or sitting. They are generally are removed while sleeping. Compression stockings may be worn for years and even for life when alternative treatments are not the best choice. Some people love them!
The compression or pressure applied to the legs is measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury.) Typical compression socks are available in graduated compression pressures from 8-40mmHg. Since most compression wear is recommended to be worn throughout the day, we offer a range of colors and patterns to suit personal taste and lifestyle. We recommend 20-30mmHg stockings for most of our patients.
Properly fitting compression wear requires accurate measurements of your ankle, calf and thigh circumference as well as limb length. Proper customized fit of compression is critical – too tight and there is too much restriction of healthy blood flow; too loose and there is no pressure applied.
Compression wear improves stagnant blood flow and lymphatic drainage in the muscles. It has been shown to reduce lactic acid build-up after exercise and in some cases improve performance of competitive athletes. Recovery times after exercise can also be improved with the use of compression socks. Watch any athletic competition these days and you’re sure to see compression in action.