Managing Spider & Varicose Veins
Spider and varicose veins tend to develop gradually rather than overnight, so it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly when they first appeared. Once you have become aware of their presence it may be helpful for you to begin using compression stockings in addition to following the prevention steps above, to help manage them and slow their progression.
Compression stockings apply pressure to help propel blood back into your deep veins and up out of your legs, thereby reducing the amount of back flow, also called reflux, and pooling of blood. A typical approach to the use of compression stockings is to put them on when you wake up in the morning, wear them throughout the day, and then remove them before you go to bed at night or any other that time you sleep.
Wearing compression stockings can:
- Ease aching, heaviness, cramps and swelling
- Slow the worsening of varicose veins
- Reduce the risk of blood clots,especially when you’re seated for a long time such as during long car or plane journeys
Compression stockings are available in different sizes, styles, lengths, colors and levels of compression. There are two main lengths available; knee-high or thigh-high. Compression level refers to the amount of pressure a stocking applies. This is expressed in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and can range from 10mmHg to over 50mmHg. Your doctor will decide the best compression level for you.
10 – 20mmHg:
Different levels of compression are generally used for specific conditions
20 – 30mmHg:
- A feeling in the legs of heaviness and fatigue
- Mild varicose veins appearing during pregnancy
- Mild varicose veins without significant oedema
- Prevention of thrombosis and embolism (e.g. when immobile or travelling)
30 – 40mmHg:
- Varicose veins
- After treatment for varicose, reticular and spider veins
- Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)
- Prevention of DVT and oedema
- Post superficial or deep vein thrombosis
- More severe varicose veins with severe oedema
- Severe cases of chronic venous insufficiency
There is an important difference between support stockings, which basically provide one level of compression the whole way up the leg, and graduated compression stockings, which provide greater compression at the ankle and less compression as they go up. Graduated compression stockings are typically used in the management of varicose veins as this pressure gradient helps to move blood up and out of the leg. Your doctor will advise you on the most appropriate level of compression for your condition.
Compression stockings may help to relieve symptoms and delay progression, however they cannot address the underlying cause even with good compliance. If your veins are continuing to cause you problems, speak with your doctor about what treatment options may be appropriate for you.