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If you’re one of the almost 35% of Americans who suffers from varicose veins, you know they can be both a cosmetic concern, but also painful. Varicose veins result from blood pooling in your legs or feet because weak valves are preventing it from returning to your heart. This can be due to excess weight, sedentary lifestyle or even genetics. Once you develop varicose veins they don’t go away (without treatment), but there are things you can do to prevent getting more of them and to help increase your blood flow to ensure you maintain a healthy heart. 

Compression Socks

Despite the image you may conjure up of Grandma trying to get into a girdle or struggling with old-fashioned stockings, compression socks have come a long way. The material, while still form fitting, is more breathable and comfortable, similar to snug workout clothing. What compression socks do is apply pressure to your leg, compressing your veins and stimulating them to increase blood flow and keep blood returning to your heart. If blood flows more easily and freely, it won’t pool in your legs and will likely reduce swelling, pain or heaviness you might feel. 

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Beyond the Vein

While many physicians recommend compression socks for varicose vein sufferers, other people can benefit from them as well. If you sit or stand a lot or are a frequent flier, compression socks might be worth considering. In fact, many athletes wear them to improve performance, reduce injury and soreness and improve overall circulation. 

The Right Pair for You

Like anything, compression socks aren’t one size fits all. They come in different lengths and sizes, so it’s important to consult with a doctor to ensure you get the ones that are best for your condition. Compression socks can stop at the knee or reach your thighs. Some have open toes and some closed. And of course, you need to ensure proper wear to get the benefit from them. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Time of day: Most doctors recommend wearing your compression socks all day, but removing them before bed. Putting them on first thing in the morning will be easiest physically and give you the most benefit. 
  • Check your size: You don’t want socks that are too long, causing bunching, or too short, missing the section you want to stimulate. And while compression socks should be snug, they shouldn’t feel too tight that they’re cutting off circulation.
    • Compression socks come in varying sizes of compression. These include:
      • Mild (8-15 mmHg): Best for minor leg swelling resulting from pregnancy or being on your feet for long periods. 
      • Medium (15-20 mmHg): Good for more minor varicose vein symptoms and prevention. Also good for air travelers to reduce the risks of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), and is often prescribed after a vein treatment.
      • High (20-30 mmHg): Best for severe varicose veins and can also be prescribed post treatment.
      • Extra-firm (30-40 mmHg): For severe venous insufficiency and other vein diseases. 

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For many people varicose veins can become painful, even debilitating, and affect their overall health. If your varicose veins become uncomfortable, it’s always best to contact a specialist who can talk to you about what’s best for your health and wellbeing. Find a Metro Vein Center near you and schedule a free consultation today.