Compression has been a cornerstone of vein treatment for centuries, dating all the way back to ancient Roman times when soldiers would use straps of leather banding to aid blood-flow in their legs. Thankfully compression garments have come a fair way since those times, being made from carefully woven fabrics to apply varying levels of pressure to different parts of the body.
This is what a vein doctor wants you to know about compression and how it can help you to improve your vein health plus treat swelling and aches – even in the most chronic of cases.
Have you heard of the second heart?
Your heart has to work hard to pump blood up and down the body, out to the limbs, muscles and organs. As the legs are the furthest from your heart, it’s harder for the blood to flow back up, especially with gravity playing a role.
This is where your calf muscles come in, pumping the main artery and it’s connected veins in a mechanism doctors refer to as the “second heart”. This pump is crucial to the regular flow of blood in your legs and if you suffer from impaired blood-flow for any number of reasons (from varicose veins to diabetes), strengthening this pump helps to regulate and boost blood flow.
What a vein doctor wants you to know about compression
Compression stockings are one of the best ways to help stabilise blood-flow, for several reasons.
The first is by applying the right amount of pressure on the calf muscle so it more effectively pumps the veins and boosts blood flow. This is particularly helpful for people who are seated or standing still for extended periods of time for air travel or hospitality work as an example. Compress will help compensate for the lack of proper movement.
Another primary benefit of compression stockings is the funnel effect. By using a graduated compressive weave that’s tighter around the ankle and eases up as it goes up the leg, it directs your blood back to your upper body. This makes them perfect for minimising and preventing swelling in the legs.
Put simply, compression stockings work by assisting the existing blood-flow to return the blood back up to the heart.
Learn more: How does compression help varicose veins?
Compression levels and fit
Understanding that compression helps the veins is one thing, but that doesn’t just mean tights will do the trick. The most important part of compression stockings is the level of pressure they provide. There are two key factors that any compression garment needs to effectively relieve vein issues, compression class and anatomic fit.
All medical compression garments are graded by their level of compression, divided into four classes.
- Class 1 – Entry-level medical-grade compression that’s ideal for people with mild symptoms like mild swelling, occasional aches etc.
- Class 2 – This level of compression is the standard for recovery from varicose vein treatment and for people with existing varicose issues. These stockings benefit both blood flow as well as muscle recovery. Class two is the recommended level of compression for most people.
- Class 3 – Sitting at a very high level of compression, this is primarily reserved for people suffering from chronic venous insufficiency and other serious conditions that affect the veins.
- Class 4 – This grade of compression is reserved for only the most serious and severe issues where the veins and surrounding tissue are adversely affected. And only a tiny fraction of the population will ever need this.
The other key factor for compression stockings is anatomical fit. No matter how strong the compression is, if the stockings don’t fit properly along the legs then they won’t be effective. Compression stockings that apply effective pressure to boost blood-flow should fit comfortably but firmly around the ankle, calf and if full length, around the thighs.
Compression for you
Overall, compression stockings are designed to amplify the already existing mechanisms and functions that pump blood, enhancing what your body is already doing.
Wearing compression stockings will help to alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins and other vein issues, as well as muscle soreness, and it’s recommended that no matter your lifestyle or vein health, you consider wearing compression stockings.
Seek expert advice from a vein doctor
The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive program using non-surgical laser treatment techniques. You can learn more in our Definitive Guide to Varicose Vein Treatment.
The benefits of non-surgical varicose vein treatment are:
- Walk-in walk-out treatment
- 98% success rate
- Extremely effective
- Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
- No general anaesthetic
- Medicare rebates apply
- No downtime or time away from work
To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call 1300 981 402. Or, make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.