Do I need to wear compression hose?

Compression Hose: Not Your Grandmother’s Stockings Anymore!

(And Why You Should Be Wearing Them)


Compression hose. Do those words bring to mind those tan, extremely tight stockings that your grandmother wore? If so, fear not! A new age of compression hose has arrived!

First, let’s start off by talking about compression therapy and why it is vital in treatment for varicose vein disease. Compression hose provide just that: compression. Compression hose are used before, during, and after vein treatments for different reasons:

Before Treatment: Your insurance will typically require a “trial period” of conservative therapy that includes the use of a medical grade graduated compression hose. This period of time varies depending upon what type of insurance you have, but it typically ranges from 2 weeks to 3 months. This is a mandatory requirement by your insurance company. That means they will not even consider paying for any treatment before you have done this trial therapy. We do not make the rules, but we do have to follow them. So, if you are trying to get your veins fixed before a big event that means you need to start months before said event. Yes, I do mean months.

During Treatment: Compression hose also need to be worn during treatment for varicose veins. The compression that is exerted from the hose helps to augment the procedures and reduce complications, such as swelling. Occasionally compression hose will also be recommended for those who are having treatment for spider veins. This can truly vary patient to patient based on their specific needs. Your healthcare provider will discuss this with you during your consultation.

After Treatment: Varicose veins are a disease just like the myriad of other problems we all battle. While treatment can correct the problem, and get it under control, modern medicine has not progressed enough to completely reverse the genetic tendencies of our bodies to make defective veins. That is why wearing compression hose after treatment is so important. It can help delay the progression of new varices being made and prolong the time you can go between treatments.

Buying Compression Hose

One of the difficulties that patients often face is there are a myriad of sizes and strengths when it comes to compression hose. This can make it challenging even for a well-educated consumer to pick one that will fit.

But don’t lose hope! I have a secret for you. When buying compression hose, you need to be measured. True, medical grade, graduated compression hose do not come in a one-size-fits-all. They also aren’t a one-size-fits-most either. They most likely will not be the right size and definitely will not give you the adequate compression that you need. Do not even waste your money on those. You will regret it the moment you try to put them on.

The differences between a medical grade graduated compression hose and an over-the-counter hose are vast:

The Compression is Stronger.

There is a stark difference between the compression hose you buy at your department store and the ones you get from your medical provider’s office. The most notable difference is that a medical grade hose provides a higher degree of compression. Compression is measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury), and the compression needs to be at least 20-30 mmHg. This higher strength is needed in order to exert enough pressure against the vein walls to assist in returning blood back to the heart. This is also why a stronger compression hose can assist in relieving leg symptoms, such as aching and throbbing. A lesser degree of compression is not going to be strong enough to truly assist in blood return back to the heart, thus not alleviating your symptoms.

Additionally, as mentioned before wearing compression hose is a pre-treatment requirement by almost every insurance company. The length of time that compression must be worn can vary, but these must be a medical grade compression hose. The compression hoses you picked out in the department store don’t count towards that insurance requirement. Sorry.

The Compression is Graduated.

No, this compression hose does not have its diploma, but it is recognized as a standard in treatment. Graduated, or gradient, pressure hose fits tighter around the ankle and gradually loosen compression the higher up the leg they go. This helps to mimic the natural calf muscle pumping which assists in bringing venous blood back to the heart. Over the counter compression is often just a singular compression strength, meaning that same pressure is being exerted over the entire leg. This does not help push blood back up toward the heart as effectively as graduated hose do.

There Are Colors Galore!

If you think that compression hose only come in white or tan, think again! Not only do the compression hose of today come in countless colors they are also available in different textures, patterns, and materials! Athletic socks, cotton dress socks, and even fashion stockings to wear with dresses are all available now in a medical grade, graduated compression! We can help you find the right compression hose for you and your lifestyle! You may not believe me, but as someone who wears them daily I can attest that they are actually comfortable.

Our medical staff is trained and educated on the types of stockings available, and how to properly fit you for the size that you need. Don’t put off getting the vein treatments that you want just because the thought of having to wear compression hose fills you with dread. Give the new compression hose a try. You just may find out you like them.


Written by: Chelsea Campbell, FNP-BC

Tagged with: , ,

Posted in: Varicose Veins

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