Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins

Woman wearing compression stockings

In this era of high-tech innovation, compression stockings remain a fundamental and essential treatment for varicose veins

In this section, you are going to learn how wearing compression stockings can help you virtually remove any pain and swelling you may have had during your day to day activities due to your varicose veins.

It’s important to wear compression stockings because if you don’t wear them or don’t wear them correctly, you are more likely to develop new varicose veins, dangerous deep vein thrombosis and even ulcers (open sores) on your ankle.

What Are Compression Stockings And Why Are They Useful?

Compression hosiery have been used to treat venous disorders since 1848, when William Brown patented the first elastic compression stocking. Since then, the use of even lightweight graduated compression hosiery has been widely proven to improve symptoms of discomfort, swelling, fatigue and aching.

Compression stockings put helpful pressure on your veins. Graduated stockings tighten the most at the ankle, and gradually delivers less tension as it stretches over the knee and towards the thigh. The result becomes the forcing of blood along its natural course despite the damage to the veins.

Before Thinking About Using Them

Make sure to check with your doctor if you have any arterial disease before using compression stockings for your varicose veins. If that is your case, compression stocking may not be the best option for you.

Tips on Buying and Using Compression Stockings

You don’t need a prescription to buy compression stockings. You can buy them online, at a medical supply store or at a full service pharmacy. Compression stockings will often range in price from about $50 to $100, depending on the size and style. I have tried both the cheap and the expense ones, and the high-end stockings are well worth it, especially if you wear them every day.

Unless told otherwise by your doctor, you should not wear them when sleeping.

If you plan on wearing them every day, get two pairs. This way, you can wear one while washing and drying the other.

To keep the elasticity, you need to wash them in warm water with a gentle detergent and let them dry flat. This means that if you remove your stockings, you need to wash and let them dry before using them again. This is where it comes in handy to have two pairs.

Most stocking will last 3 to 4 months before losing their initial strength.

How to Choose Your Compression Stocking

1. The length of your stocking

Two main lengths are available: knee and thigh highs. A knee-length gradient compression stocking is generally recommended for most case, but if you have varicose veins or swelling above your knee, thigh high is recommended.

2. The compression level

The standard compression level in the USA are divided into three classes:
Class 1: 15-20 mmHg
Class 2: 20-30 mmHg
Class 3: 30-40 mmHg

Compression stocking between 15 and 20 mmHg effectively relieve the symptoms of venous insufficiency, prevent edema (swelling) and are well-tolerated by most people.

Male athletes in all sort of sports are starting to wear compression stockings to improve their performance.

Can Men Wear Compression Stocking?

Absolutely! I was concerned what other might say when I first started wearing them. But now, with more and more male athletes wearing them on and off training to improve their performance, there is nothing preventing you to do the same.

When and How to Apply Compression Stockings

Stockings should be apply before swelling builds in the legs. The ideal time is before going out of bed in the morning. If you take a shower, you should put them on right after drying yourself up.

A little trick of mine to make the process of applying my stocking easier is to lie on my back with my legs in the air. This allows the blood to leave my legs which reduces their size a little.

 What Does Science Has to Say About Stockings?

Randomized controlled trials evaluating compression hosiery in the treatment of varicose veins were sought lately in the medical journal Phlebology. Their conclusion, after examining 25 studies, is as follow:

Wearing compression improved symptom management but wearing compression to slow the progression, or prevent the reoccurrence of varicose veins could not be supported by the current published evidence. (Phlebology 2009;24 Suppl1:13)

In other words, compression stockings make your life a lot easier but they do not prevent your legs from getting worse.

Combination is the key. You need to combine the compression stocking with the supplements that will reinforce your veins to stop the progression of your varicose veins. Stockings alone will not do.

Where Do You Buy Your Compression Stocking and Which Brand Do You Recommend?

I used to buy them at a medical supply store in my city. But the many advantages of buying them online made me switch lately. The prices are lower, you have more brand to choose from and best of all, you don’t even have to leave your home.

I tried different online stores, and even though they are rather similar, my favorite one is www.therafirm.com  It has all the brands and size possible. Its customer service is fast and it even offers international shipping. Tell me if you find a better deal than that because I never did!

For the best brand, it really comes down to personal preferences. By experience, each brand has low-end products and high-end products. Be willing to spend a little more for a stocking that will make you feel better longer. The brand I am using right now is Therafirm and the model is a thigh high 20-30 mmHg that you can find here: Therafirm EASE Open-Toe Thigh High Stockings

Sigvaris is the largest maker of compression stockings in the world since 2009. They produce more than 3.6 million pairs of socks every year. But I find that Therafirm is just as good.

Make sure to view the sizing chart before choosing your size and ask the customer support team if you have any question, they are very friendly.

Marc Livingston

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35 Responses to “Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins”

  1. sana
    July 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Thanks sir for valuable information about varicose veins.

  2. Rosemarie
    September 17, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    What if your varicose veins are in the back of your knee? Do I need to wear the pantyhose line? Will knee highs cut of the blood at the back of my knees?

    • September 17, 2012 at 11:41 am #

      Tight high compression stockings are a great solution if you have varicose veins in the back of your knee. It’s what I personally wear every day.

  3. Latisha
    October 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    I am new to varicose veins and honestly feel I am younger than most as I am 29 but am currently pregnant with my 4th and now have (dr diagnosed) varicose veins in several places on my left leg. My problem is I have one in the crease of my leg closest to my groin that has spread into 5 other veins. I am trying desperately to find an option to relieve the pain and pressure and not finding any options. Having said that I am also severly allergic to latex and elastic therefore it seems most stockings wont work for me. Please help.

    • October 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

      Hi Latisha,
      I would suggest this pair of compression stockings. They are made with silicone instead of latex. It’s the model I have been wearing for the past few months and I had no problem with them even though I tend to have sensible skin. For the veins closer to your groin, you could also try a maternity model here (most of them also latex free) and compare the two to see which one you like the most. I hope it helps!

    • Kristi
      December 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

      No u r not younger than most, I started getting them at 22 and at 36 have terrible veins. I suggest u have them removed because they will only spread and get much worse. I had horrible pain close to the groin when they started and the dr. said the only thing to do was get off my feet.

      • Christina
        March 1, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

        Hi Kristi, I’ve had veins showing since early 20s too, now I’m about to turn 36 and 2 kids later more and more are showing at a rapid pace n I just started really feling discomfort in the back of my knees, feet and groin. My dr suggested I o to a vein specialit and they cn do laser removal. I’d u have this one. Any info use anyone can share would be appreciated. I’m scared!

        • Christina
          March 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

          My question was, did you have the removal done.? What was involved. Does one feel better after? Look better? Thanks

  4. Ashly
    November 1, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    Hi..I have a question. One of my legs gets restless at times, numbness, pain, pressure, and varicose varies are run in the family. I have a pair of compression stockings however,they have seen better days! Im ready to purchase a new pair but cant remember what I purchased years ago. What do you think is better for me with these symptoms 20-30mmHG or the 30-40mmHG? The knee high length is very comfortable with adding the silicone top to hold in place.

    Thank you!!

    • November 1, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      Hi Ashly,
      30-40mmHG are rarely better, in fact most people find it uncomfortable to wear compression stockings with such high compression level. It is usually reserve for special cases, like ulcers. Try the 20-30mmHG, a good quality pair should do the trick.

  5. Ashly
    November 1, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    Thank you for getting back to me! I have another question.

    What do you think will hold better the Silicone Lace Stay-up Top or the Beaded Silicone Stay-up top.

    My previous pair were lace up which held up good but the lace was kind of itchy at times.

  6. Ronnie
    November 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    What is an example of a high-end brand? I’m a pharmacist and stand on my feet all day and am looking for a really good pair to wear daily. Thanks in advance!

  7. Yuri
    November 25, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    Hi
    Iam 28 , ive noticed at least 4 small spider veins , i work as a server and on my feet for 6-10 hrs 5 days a wk. how can i prevent more spider veins which stalkins should i use?

    Thank you

  8. Vishwanath
    January 24, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    Very useful information. Many thanks for sharing with us.

  9. basheer
    February 20, 2013 at 1:31 am #

    thaks for information ,how to decide which one is best 15-20?20-30?or 30-40 mmhg?

    • February 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      Compression stockings with a strength of 15-20 mmHg are for those with mild discomfort in the legs during the day but with no apparent varicose veins or swelling. 20-30 mmHg is the most used strength. It is recommended when you have varicose veins and/or swelling on your legs. 30-40 mmHg offer not too many advantages over the 20-30 mmHg and is used in rare cases only.

      • Christina
        March 1, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

        Hi Marc I bought a pair of 20-30 mmhg today. My veins are more apparent in my thighs, back of the knee. They are starting now in my calves to be visible. Should I be wearing the 10-20s right now? Thanks

        • March 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

          Hi Christinia, based on what you wrote, a thigh high 20-30 mmhg is probably what you are looking for. It’s what I wear everyday and they help tremendously for varicose veins on the thighs and back of the knee. Pantyhose are also very popular if you tend to move a lot during the day and want your stockings to stay in place.

  10. glo
    July 7, 2013 at 1:09 am #

    I started having varicose veins along my groin and calf areas couple months ago. The varicose veins on my calf start to develop very fast, new ones show up every month. I’m seeing a vascular surgeon and has duplex ultrasound done 2 weeks ago and he recommends VNUS closure to seal the GSV on my left thigh. He didn’t even recommend any compression stockings or any supplements. Should I get a 2nd opinion?
    Can I buy compression stockings to wear? if so, what specification should I buy?

    I exercise daily and have been using the stair master a lot. Would it has caused the sudden onset of varicose veins? I also lift weight but very low weight, about 20lbs as I need to strengthen my core and upper body for lower back pain. Can I continue? thanks in advance for your help.

    • July 18, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

      I find that surgeons do not think much in term of prevention. So compression stockings are rarely part of their discussions (except for the few days following the surgery). Maybe it is different in Europe, I don’t know. But one thing is sure: unless your doctor advised you against wearing compression stockings, you should wear them. It will help you reduce the pain, the swelling in your veins and legs, and prevent new varicose veins. For questions about specification, the folks at Therafirm.com will gladly help answers all your questions.

      I do also exercise daily. And wearing my compression stockings makes my workout a lot easier on my veins.

  11. Lana
    July 12, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    Mark

    Thank you for all recommendations. What about summer, if you need to wear open shoes?

    • July 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

      During the summer, open toes compression stockings are great. And you can wear open shoes with them without any problem. I have been wearing this model for the past few months.

  12. Cotton Compression Socks
    July 26, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    I have very sensitive skin. The Therafirm Pantyhose are soft and make my legs feel great. They have greatly helped reduce the appearance of my varicose veins and helped with the swelling i get in my legs from standing for long periods of time. Since these stockings have a good mix of spandex and nylon, they are extremely comfortable. I highly recommend this product to anybody else who has sensitive skin and needs a 20-30 compression!

  13. Yadi
    November 15, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

    I would like to know which is the appropriate high to use if my spider veins are on my lateral middle thigh, pls help me to find the correct ones!

    • November 19, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

      For any vein problem above the knee, thigh high is what you want.

  14. Sheila
    March 16, 2014 at 7:41 am #

    What do people wear in summer?? ..I don’t wear shorts because of my varicose veins but do like to wear capris .. Are there any type of compression leggings? May seem like a strange question but not only are veins embarrassing so are high stockings with shorts pants

  15. miranda
    May 22, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    I have a few vericose veins on the back of my calf. They get uncomfortable when I excersise. Would I have to wear a full compression sock? or could I wear a compression bracer just for that spot?

    • May 22, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

      Compression should be applied from the bottom of the foot to the top of the varicose veins. Applying pressure only on one spot could cause new varicose veins to form below the bracer.

  16. Jason
    August 12, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    Hey I am a 34 year old male that has been prescribed thigh high compression stockings, and I have to wear them from bow on. I want something stylish like tattoo print. Any ideas

  17. Pam
    September 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    Just a quick question. Is there a specific reason you prefer Therafirm over Sigvaris? My doctor gave me (well I purchased from them) a pair of knee high Sigvaris. But I want to go to the 20-30 instead of the 15-20 but I really know nothing about them except the one they provided was Sigvaris. Is it a money difference issue, because I notice Sigvaris tends to run more, or do you think one or the other feels better etc? I just want to make sure either way I have a good high end brand.

  18. Earl
    October 4, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    I’m an 83 year old male.with varicose veins. My doctor suggested that I wear compression stockings with medium compression. Would that be a 20 to 30 mmHG ?? Please advise. Earl

    • October 4, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

      Yes, 20 to 30 mmHG is considered medium compression. You can always adjust the compression later on if it is too much or not enough. But 20 to 30 mmHG is a safe bet for someone having varicose veins and trying compression stockings for the first time.

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