What are Varicose Vein Stockings?

Article Details
  • Written By: A.E. Freeman
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2019
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Varicose vein stockings are also known as compression stockings. The stockings exert a certain amount of pressure on a person's legs in order to improve her blood flow and reduce the appearance of varicose veins. The stockings come in several forms that depend on how severe a person's varicose veins are.

Varicose veins usually appear in a person's legs. They tend to stick out from the skin and are either purple or blue in color. The veins can make it look like a person has a rope or cord running underneath the surface of her skin.

In most cases, the veins are not painful, although some people may experience burning or itching near the veins or have swollen legs and ankles. Occasionally, untreated varicose veins can lead to more serious conditions. These may include superficial or deep vein blood clots or ulcers on the skin.

Varicose vein stockings are one way to treat the condition. A person with a mild case may wear a pair of support pantyhose to help reduce her veins. Support hose put a small amount of pressure all over the surface of the legs. If a person has a more severe case, she may wish to wear graduated varicose vein stockings. These stockings put different amounts of pressure on the leg, depending on where the problem area is.


Graduated varicose vein stockings are either available over-the-counter or by prescription. Stockings available by prescription exert the most pressure on the legs. In most cases, a person must be fitted by a doctor or pharmacist before receiving the stockings.

While it is important that a pair of varicose vein stockings be tight, they should not be too tight. The stockings work by squeezing the legs, which helps blood push its way up through the veins back to the heart. If the stockings are too tight, however, a person risks having her circulation cut of.

Varicose vein stockings come in several colors and styles. A person can wear the stockings without attracting too much attention to her legs, since in most cases, the stockings look just like a regular pair of trouser socks or pantyhose. The stockings should be put on first thing in the morning, right after waking up. They should be worn throughout the day but taken off when reclining or lifting the legs above the level of the heart.

In some cases, the stockings may not effectively treat varicose veins. Other varicose vein treatment options include sclerotherapy and vein stripping. Both are surgical procedures that reduce the presence of varicose veins by destroying or removing small or medium sized veins.



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