Wearing compression garments is the best way to prevent and treat varicose veins. Compression stocking and knee socks are widely used in the world to treat chronic venous and vascular diseases.[alert_box style=”alert alert-info fade in” close=”no” custom_class=””]What do we know about compression garments? Why does wearing compression garments have a positive effect in vascular veins treatment? Why do you need to wear them every day? In this article we will try to cover all these topics.[/alert_box]
Compression therapy plays a big role in the conservative treatment of vascular veins. Its methods are practiced separately as well as to help recover after surgery.
Wearing compression garments enhances capillary blood flow, reduces the pressure on vein walls, diminishes vascular permeability, reduces swelling, enhances blood return back to the heart. Besides, a long-term compression therapy reduces all varicose veins symptoms (heaviness in the legs, nighttime leg cramps, swelling in the feet at evening time).
The compression garments you can find on today’s market are knee socks, stockings and tights.
They can be preventive or therapeutic. The difference is in their level of compression. Every compression class has its own level of pressure at the ankle. The pressure depends on the stiffness and elasticity of the fabric, on the size and the form of the patient’s leg, his/her body’s position and on the way the patient moves (runs, walks, lying down, standing up).
Benefits of compression garments
The benefits of wearing compression garments are obvious. The most important are:
- Improved venous return;
- Reduced blood accumulations in the veins;
- Heaviness and pain in the legs, swelling, muscle cramps removed;
- Enhancement of the lymphatic system’s efficiency;
- Preventing venous skin ulcers;
- Vein thrombosis prevention.
Can you use elastic bands instead of compression garments?
Yes you can, only if you know how to use them. Inadequate use of elastic bands may lead to the worsening and progressing of the disease. Therefore only an experienced doctor should put the bands, at home you should wear compression garments.
Another benefit of compression garments is that they look a lot like regular clothing. On the other hand, the bands, besides being very uncomfortable to wear, create many esthetics problems. Besides, unlike bands compression garments create conditions for balancing skin temperature.
Compression levels of garments
Preventive garments create pressure at the ankles at the level of less than 15 mmHg (millimetres of mercury) and are used by individuals being a part of varicose veins risk group (pregnant, genetics, physically demanding jobs, prolonged standing at work, or sitting during the day).
Therapeutic garments have a level of compression higher than 20 mmHg. This kind of garments are prescribed by the doctor after the examination of the patient.
The compression level depends on the stage of the disease and on the patient’s anatomical features.
American classification system has the following levels of compression:
- 1 Class – pressure at 15-20 mmHg.
- 2 Class – pressure at 20-30 mmHg.
- 3 Class – pressure at 30-40 mmHg.
European classification system has:
- 1 compression class – pressure at 15-21 mmHg.
- 2 compression class – pressure at 23-32 mmHg.
- 3 compression class – pressure at 34-46 mmHg.
- 4 compression class -pressure at over 49 mmHg.
Indications for use
1st compression class is preventive and is recommended to use for individuals suffering from reticular veins, heaviness in the legs, for pregnant women, sportsmen, office employees, overweight people, people spending most of their time seating or lying.
2nd class is prescribed by the doctor who makes a diagnosis of varicose veins, frequent limbs swellings, pregnancy complications. Compression stockings and knee socks of the 2nd compression class are also used before and after vein surgery.
3rd and 4th compression classes are prescribed to individuals suffering from severe varicose veins (thrombophlebitis, thrombosis, trophic ulcers).
The same type of garments is prescribed to people who have prolonged limb swellings and severe vascular diseases.
Elastic bands and compression garments are contraindicated for patients who suffer from the advanced stage of peripheral artery disease, severe neurological impairment and lymphangitis. An absolute contraindication is the allergy to garment components. Other contraindications may be severe forms of dermatitis and diabetes.
How to wear compression garments and care for them
It is up to you to decide to wear the preventive compression clothes or not. They can be used once in a while or daily, depending on your health status.
As for therapeutic elastic compression garments, they should be worn on a daily basis. You should put them on in the morning and take them off before going to bed. It is recommended to change them every 6 months.
The care for the garments is very simple. They should be washed in warm water. To avoid allergic reactions it is better to wash them with baby soap. You should put on stockings or knee socks lying, gradually rolling them up your leg. It is better to put them on early in the morning, staying in bed, when your legs are not swollen.
After taking off the garment you should wash legs and apply moisturizing cream.
If a run or a hole appears in your tights, you should show them to a specialist, most probably the garment lost its compression qualities. You should dry it away from direct light sources. You should not hang or stretch the garment.
Summing up it is important to say that every method of treatment of chronic vascular diseases involves using compression garments. Every phlebologist would recommend wearing compression garments. Taking early measures to prevent varicose veins can help you to avoid longterm treatment and expensive surgeries. Good health for you and your family!