Compression stockings help relieve the symptoms of varicose veins. They improve circulation and are a mainstay of treatment for varicose veins that are causing symptoms. (Mild varicose veins that are not causing symptoms don't need treatment.) Compression stockings are tightest at the foot. They gradually loosen as they fit higher on the leg.
Doctors often recommend that you wear the stockings during the day to help relieve symptoms.
- For very mild symptoms, you may want to start out using regular support panty hose, knee-highs, or knee socks (which end just above the calf, below the knee). You may find that these help swelling and aching considerably. They are also less expensive than the special compression stockings a doctor prescribes, and they are available at most department stores or online.
- For more serious symptoms, you may want to buy special compression stockings from a medical supply store (with a doctor's prescription), where you can be fitted for them. Compression stockings are usually not covered by provincial health plans, but they may be covered by some supplemental private insurance if a doctor prescribes them.
Compression stockings can be expensive. They may be hard to put on, and it may take you awhile to get used to wearing them all day. But if they fit right, they should be snug but comfortable. If you have problems wearing the stockings, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Consider any problems you may have with compression stockings compared with the chance that they may help keep your problem from getting worse and may help you avoid surgery.
Avoid elastic bandages for varicose veins unless your doctor specifically suggests them. They can cut off blood flow and may make varicose veins worse. (If this type of bandage is recommended, ask how to wrap it.)
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Current as of: March 4, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
David A. Szalay MD - Vascular Surgery