Compression therapy plays a vital and effective role in managing varicose veins and spider veins. If you’re getting treatment from these conditions, then compression therapy, most likely in the form of stockings, will almost always be a part of your treatment plan.

 

How Compression Works

Compression therapy is based on the simple and efficient technique of applying pressure around the leg. Graduated compression (strongest at the ankle and decreasing going up the leg) assists the calf muscles to perform their pumping action more efficiently to return blood to the heart. With the right pressure, the stretched vein walls are gently squeezed together, allowing the valves to close, aiding overall circulation.

Compression is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmMG) and relates to the amount of sub-bandage pressure being applied. Therapeutic compression stockings are often grouped into the following grades depending on their mmHG content:
Class I: 18mmHG -21mmHG
Class II: 23mmHG-32mmHG
Class III: 34mmHG-46mmHG

 

When Is Compression Therapy Important?

Low to mild levels of compression (Class I and II) are remarkably effective in managing:
  • varicose veins
  • spider veins after sclerotherapy treatment
  • patients with ‘tired legs’ or pigmentation due to venous disease
Stockings exerting high levels of compression (Class III) are effective in:
  • healing venous ulcers
  • preventing blood clot formation following major surgeries
  • management of lymphedema
Compression stockings may also assist:
  • patients with a first episode of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). They can reduce the likelihood of post-thrombotic syndrome (a common complication arising from DVT) by 50%
  • during pregnancy to prevent excessive ankle swelling (oedema)
  • in lowering the risk of DVT in those at high risk. This includes diabetics given their increased risk of circulatory problems and those undertaking long-haul flights (> 4 hours)

Can I Stop Compression Stockings Before My Doctor Instructs?

Not if you want to achieve optimal medical and cosmetic benefits! Patient research has shown that:
  • wearing Class II compression stockings for three weeks improves the effectiveness of sclerotherapy treatment of spider veins by improving clinical vessel disappearance
  • using stockings for the entire day produces less ankle swelling compared to use for a half day or not at all
When used daily, compression stockings should be replaced after 3-6 months.

 

What Other Types of Compression Therapy Are Available?

Compression therapy can also be applied via bandages or in certain circumstances intermittent pneumatic compression (through a sealed chamber around the limb). However the advantage of stockings over bandages is that you can be confident the correct pressure is applied.

 

Commonly Used Stocking Types

Anti-embolism

Worn when bed-ridden or post-surgically to help prevent pooling of blood in the legs that could lead to a venous thrombosis.

Custom

Uniquely made for a specific individual.

Circular Knit

Seamless stockings that are more stylish/attractive.

Flat Knit

Stockings made with a seam that can be constructed in virtually any shape or size. Most often used in higher compression classes.

Silver

Stockings constructed using special silver textile fibers, offering natural anti-microbial protection.

Lymphedema

Mild compression stockings sold over-the-counter and without a doctor’s prescription.

Support

Mild compression stockings sold over-the-counter and without a doctor’s prescription.