Do Compression Socks Really Work for Varicose Veins?
Written by Dallas Vein Specialists on June 11, 2015
If you have varicose veins, you have likely heard people talk about compression socks. But just what is their role, if any, in the prevention or relief of varicose veins? In this post, Dr. Lonnie Whiddon of Dallas Vein Specialists has some clear information on what compression socks can and can’t do in the treatment of varicose veins.
HOW DO COMPRESSION SOCKS WORK?
Compression socks are knee-high or thigh-high stockings made of a fabric with elastic properties. The stockings apply pressure over the entire outer leg keeping the blood within the leg veins from stagnating or pooling. Put another way, these stockings increase the blood flow within the veins and thus promote more efficient flow out of the leg to the central veins of the body and ultimately back to the heart.
The stockings are recommended for people with varicose veins or damaged veins from old clots. In patients with varicose veins the stockings are prescribed to relieve the related symptoms, such as pain and swelling of the legs. In more advanced cases where the varicose vein problem is complicated by skin breakdown and even ulcer formation, the stockings are strongly recommended to arrest and improve these deteriorating situations. Regular use of the stockings can reduce recurrence rate of venous ulcers as well.
Another group of patients that derive benefit from regular use of compression hose are those who have deep vein insufficiency usually caused from damage to the valves of the veins from old clots within the deep veins that course deep to the edge of the muscles. These deep veins return the great proportion of blood pumped to the legs. Regular use of compression stockings will serve to limit the debilitating symptoms of swelling and skin changes including ulceration.
Patients who develop acute thrombosis (clotting) of either superficial or deep veins should be prescribed compression hose at the earliest time. In patients with superficial clots (ones in veins between the muscle and skin) the symptoms of pain and tenderness will be improved by wearing the stockings. For patients with more serious deep vein clots, early and continued use of compression hose may prevent the chronic and debilitating swelling and skin changes that can follow the more extensive cases of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the so-called post phlebitis syndrome.
Finally individuals that are relatively immobilized by such events as long plane flights or car trips would be well advised to wear compression stockings in order to reduce the risk of developing clots in the legs. The risks of these clots developing rises with the length of time of relative confinement.
CAN COMPRESSION SOCKS PREVENT OR CURE VARICOSE VEINS
Varicose veins are caused by faulty valves that result in blood pooling in the veins so that they become enlarged. These veins show through the skin as ropy often twisting cords along the legs. This condition may require removal of the varicose veins in addition to treating the underlying vein problem that caused the varicose veins. Wearing compression socks will not prevent or cure varicose veins, though in some cases they provide improvement or relief of symptoms of this vein disorder.
TREATING VARICOSE VEINS EFFECTIVELY
To effectively treat more severe cases of varicose veins, a minimally invasive procedure can be performed that will destroy the inner lining of the vein so that the vein closes off and is subsequently eliminated by the body’s natural removal process. At Dallas Vein Specialists, I commonly use endovenous laser ablation (EVLT) to treat the underlying vascular cause of varicose veins. In some patients mechanochemical ablation using the ClariVein system is used. This treatment is newer and has advantages in some patients
Endovenous Laser Ablation — During EVLT treatment a thin laser fiber is inserted into the vein that has been found to have failing valves that in turn causes the development of the varicose veins. The laser fiber is passed via a small, painless needle puncture into the vein and passed up the length of the vein to be treated. Ultrasound technology is used to locate the abnormally functioning vein and guide the laser fiber during treatment. The heat of the laser inside the vein damages the vein wall so that blood flow inside the vein stops as the vein closes down. The vein will be removed over the ensuing months by the body’s own mechanisms. The whole procedure is essentially done with one small needle puncture.
Mechanochemical ablation using ClariVein — The treatment, like EVLT treatment, is minimally invasive, endovenous (treatment from inside the vein) and uses ultrasound technology to guide the device. However, unlike the EVLT treatment, which uses laser thermal injury to close the vein, the mechanochemical ablation offered at Dallas Vein Specialists uses the ClariVein system, a mechanical device consisting of a motor drive attached to a thin catheter with a hockey-stick-shaped tip that when activated rotates at over 3,000 revolutions per minute. The catheter is inserted into the vein and passed the length of the vein to be treated. As the mechanical rotation disrupts the inner wall of the vein a small about of sclerosant chemical is injected that causes further damage to the vein. As with EVLA the vein is immediately rendered non-functional and is eventually taken away by the body.
The mechanochemical ablation treatment is a painless, short procedure that results in no scarring. And since it has no potential for heat induced nerve damage, this treatment can be used on veins that course intimately with nerves such as the saphenous veins in the lower leg just above the ankle. Nerve damage can thus be avoided. The treatment is performed without even the need for local anesthesia.
SCHEDULE YOUR VARICOSE VEIN TREATMENT
If you have varicose veins, are you wondering if you are a candidate for one of the above treatments? Contact Dallas Vein Specialists to find out and learn more about the in-office vein treatments offered. Schedule an appointment today by calling (214) 221-9222.