Does Compression Therapy Really Work?

April 6, 2016

patient that needs compression stockings

Compression therapy is a commonly-prescribed treatment for symptomatic spider and varicose veins. This non-invasive therapy has been around for decades and is also used as a preventative measure against blood clot formation after surgery. Compression stockings have come a long way since their inception, with those unsightly stockings worn by grandma now replaced with more fashionable colors and styles. Despite their style evolution, one pressing question remains – do compression stockings really work the way they promise they will?

Explaining Compression

Compression therapy is designed to maximize blood flow in the lower legs. The lower leg veins have the incredibly difficult task of pushing blood back up the body to the heart. Because they experience more stress and strain than other veins, they are more vulnerable to damage over time. Damaged vessels allow blood to pool inside, which can lead to the appearance of spider and varicose veins if the damage is left unchecked.

Compression stockings fit tighter around the foot and then loosen gradually as they move up the leg. The purpose is to help those hard-working vessels move the blood in an upward direction easier, which lessens the strain on the veins. When the veins have a little extra help, the pressure inside them tends to go down as well. This can result in relief from uncomfortable symptoms like pain, heaviness and swelling.

Options in Compression

Compression stockings come in different strengths, measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), which allow your physician to tailor your compression to your specific needs. Strengths vary from 8mmHg to 40mmHg, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Mild compression is usually advised for tired, achy legs, while extra firm compression is generally reserved for those patients experiencing significant swelling or venous ulcers.

In most cases, compression stockings are put on before you get out of bed in the morning and taken off after you get into bed at night. Most patients will be advised to wear the stockings as long as the symptoms persist, which is usually until vein treatment is performed to eliminate the swollen veins completely. If compression therapy is recommended after a vein treatment, the duration of wear will depend on the specific treatment that was done and the severity of the vein condition.

“Curing” Varicose Veins

Compression therapy can be highly effective in managing painful symptoms associated with varicose veins. The stockings can also help prevent a current vein condition from worsening. However, compression therapy is not a useful method of “curing” varicose veins. If the compression therapy is stopped, the veins and symptoms are likely to get worse once again.

To completely eradicate your symptoms, you must eliminate the swollen veins that are causing them. At Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we offer a variety of treatments that can do just that, including:

  • Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) – This procedure uses laser technology to heat the inside of the vein, causing the vessel to seal shut so it can be reabsorbed by the body.
  • Sclerotherapy – This treatment involves injections of a sclerosing agent into the vein that seals the vein closed.
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy – This procedure uses tiny incisions and small tools to remove the swollen vessel from the leg in small sections.

If you are suffering the pain and embarrassment of spider or varicose veins, our team can help. Contact the Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin at 800-910-8346 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Jimenez and find out which treatment is the right one for you.