Top 5 Questions About Compression Stockings

Updated on: November 28, 2018

Are you worried about how to wear your compression stockings during a hot, active summer? You may be planning a long car trip or getting on a long flight to reach your vacation destination. The experts discuss everything you need to know about compression stockings—when to wear them, how to wear them, and more!

1. I’d like to wear more shorts and skirts this summer, which might not look good with compression stockings. If I stop wearing compression stockings will my veins get bigger?

If you have varicose veins or spider veins, these are part of a chronic condition which can get worse with time. Compression hose cannot prevent these veins, but can certainly slow down the progression and help maintain the efforts of treatment, be it endovenous laser ablation, sclerotherapy or some other procedure. A stocking with a lower compression is best for maintenance. There are many styles now which are attractive and practical (wool for winter, cotton for summer or very sheer with open toes).

2. Which type of compression stocking should be worn for travel to avoid getting a blood clot? I am taking a long flight that is about 15 hours.?

It depends on if you have varicose veins, any venous reflux in your superficial system and what levels are involved. If you have minimal to no venous insufficiency and your goal is to minimize the chances of a deep vein clot, you can get 15-20 mmHg knee-highs, take an aspirin a day for several days before and after your travel (if you have no ulcer disease or other stomach issues), and during travel try to get out of your seat every hour or so to go for a walk (up the aisle). The combination of walking, aspirin and support stockings should decrease your risks for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) on a long flight (or road trip).

3. For a blood clot, do you wear compression stockings 24/7 or just during the day and take off them off at night?

You should check with your doctor, but typically you would wear compression stockings 24/7 for one to two weeks post-treatment. If your condition is not so severe, you can ease up after the initial post-treatment period. Generally speaking, you get the most benefit from compression stockings when you are vertical (such as standing or sitting) since the hose help to get the fluid and blood back to your heart. The stockings are less helpful when you are horizontal (lying down/sleeping), so it is less important that you wear them at night.

4. When the weather is too hot for full-length compression hose, I’d like to wear compression knee-highs. Are knee-highs effective enough to prevent spider veins in legs?

I generally do not recommend knee high compression stockings in my patients unless they have already had their vein issues addressed above their knees. Wearing knee high compression stockings can essentially place a constricting band around the calf and allow any abnormal veins above the knee to pool right at the knee. The result is an increase in venous pressure at the knee, causing pain in the knee itself. Thigh-high compression stockings of at least 20-30 mmHg compression is what I recommend. Keep in mind that you should not expect spider veins or any of your vein issues to go away, even with the stockings. Only by having your veins treated can you expect them to disappear.

5. Can I swim with compression stockings on rather than taking them off and then putting them back on again?

You can swim with the compression stockings on, but it is not necessary. The muscle action of the calf and thighs while swimming replace the function of the compression stockings. Additionally, once the stockings are wet and exposed to salt or chlorine, they may lose their compression or cause skin irritation and sores. I would recommend removing them to swim and, if you have trouble putting them back on afterwards, consider getting a donning device.

To read the complete selection of questions that our experts have answered regarding compression stockings, please visit our frequently asked questions on compression stockings.

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