Varicose veins are more than unattractive, they can also be downright painful. These swollen vessels can lead to aching, swelling, and cramping, particularly at the end of the day when all you want to do is rest. For some, compression stockings can be a useful way to relieve the symptoms and prevent vein disease from getting worse. These special socks are not a “cure” for varicose veins but tend to be more effective when they are used in combination with other vein disease treatments, rather than in place of them.
Understanding Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are usually caused by an underlying vein condition known as venous insufficiency. This problem occurs when veins in the lower leg become damaged, which allows blood to reflux back into the vessel rather than moving in a single direction to the heart, as it is supposed to do. This reflux leads to swelling of the vessel—and varicose veins.
Venous insufficiency results in permanent damage to the vein, which cannot be reversed by compression therapy. While you may see some relief from symptoms by wearing compression stockings, you will not see any changes to your underlying condition.
The Benefits of Compression
Compression stockings are prescription garments that offer gradient pressure to encourage healthy blood flow. The socks fit tighter around the foot and gradually loosen their compression as they move up the leg. The socks are designed to help your lower leg veins push blood back up to your heart, creating better blood flow in these vessels.
By supporting blood flow and decreasing pressure inside your veins, compression stockings can go far in relieving symptoms like pain and swelling. They may also help to prevent varicose veins from worsening over time. For this reason, your physician may prescribe compression stockings as a first course of action. Compression is also essential following procedures such as sclerotherapy and endovenous laser treatments, which eliminate the varicose veins, stimulate blood flow and ensure the best results.
The Insurance Coverage Factor
Compression stockings can also be a key factor in getting insurance coverage for your vein treatment. Most insurance companies will cover procedures to treat symptomatic varicose veins – those that are accompanied by painful symptoms or significant skin changes. However, companies may require patients to try non-invasive treatments like compression stockings first, before authorizing coverage for treatments to actually eliminate damaged vessels.
That’s why your physician might prescribe compression stockings before recommending another type of treatment. Once you have satisfied the protocol required by your insurance provider, a vein specialist will usually recommend a different treatment to eradicate the swollen vessels and their symptoms for good.
Additional Treatment Options
At USA Vein Clinics, we find that nearly all of our patients can be effectively treated using sclerotherapy for spider and smaller varicose veins and endovenous laser treatment (ELT, or sometimes referred to as EVLT) for larger veins. Both of these procedures completely eliminate the vein by causing it to collapse so it can be reabsorbed by the body.
Both sclerotherapy and EVLT are minimally invasive treatments that are performed right in our office. Sclerotherapy involves injections into the vein that cause the vein to close. ELT delivers targeted laser energy into the vein via a narrow fiber, which also causes the vein to collapse. Neither of these procedures involves a significant amount of discomfort or any downtime afterward.
If you are suffering from painful, swollen varicose veins, compression stockings will only go so far in relieving your condition.
Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Yan Katsnelson is a philanthropist, business owner, and highly skilled cardiac surgeon. He is the Founder and CEO of USA Vein Clinics, which is part of USA Clinics Group, the parent company of USA Fibroid Centers, USA Vascular Centers, and USA Oncology Centers, with more than 100 facilities nationwide. Dr. Yan has established himself as a strong advocate for accessibility and affordability of the most advanced medical care close to home. His mission is to create a positive experience for each patient with compassionate, personalized, and expert care.