Poor lower extremity circulation can cause ongoing leg swelling and discomfort that impairs your mobility and increases your risk of serious health complications. Luckily, our team of board-certified vascular specialists at Vascular Vein Centers can help. We may advise you to:
- Take diuretic medications
- Limit your sodium intake
- Curtail alcohol consumption
- Get more physically active
- Lose excess body weight
- Elevate your legs regularly
No leg swelling treatment plan is complete without compression therapy, or medical-grade compression garments that provide an invaluable “assist” to your lower extremity circulation that improves sluggish blood flow and slows the progression of venous insufficiency.
Here, we discuss how compression socks and devices work and explain how often you should wear them to alleviate leg swelling.
A short tutorial on compression therapy
Graduated compression stockings and wraps are specially designed to increase blood flow in your lower legs and support improved, healthier circulation.
By gently squeezing your legs, these fitted, medical-grade devices provide a much-needed “vascular assist” that prevents blood pooling and fluid buildup, helping to ease lower extremity achiness, heaviness, and swelling in the process. We use compression therapy to treat:
- Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)
- Swollen, painful varicose veins
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Lower leg swelling (peripheral edema)
- Skin changes (stasis dermatitis)
- Slow-healing venous ulcers
The amount of pressure, or vascular assist, you need (low, medium, or high) depends on the nature and severity of your circulatory issue. For example, mild leg swelling during pregnancy often eases sufficiently with low-pressure compression socks, while long-standing CVI issues typically require medium- to high-pressure garments.
There are two main types of compression devices:
Socks and stockings
Knee-high socks are the most frequently prescribed compression garment for lower extremity swelling. If your peripheral edema extends to the area above your knee, you may need longer compression stockings or tights that go all the way to your waist.
Bandages and wraps
For those who find it difficult to don compression socks, elastic bandages and Velcro wraps are easier to apply. In most cases, bandages and wraps are applied in layers to achieve the correct level of compression.
When to wear your compression socks
Our team carefully tailors compression therapy to your specific treatment needs: From the strength, length, and fit of your compression socks to the amount of time you spend wearing them each day, your prescription covers every aspect of your care.
One of the first questions most patients ask at the start of compression therapy is, “How often do I need to wear my compression socks to keep my leg swelling down?”
Although your personal treatment plan provides an exact answer to this question, in general, most people who aim to improve leg swelling through compression therapy should:
- Put on compression socks first thing in the morning
- Keep wearing compression socks all day long
- Remove compression socks at night, before sleeping
You should only wear your compression socks at night if our team instructs you to do so. For example, if you’re using compression therapy to treat both leg swelling and venous ulcers, we may prescribe compression bandages that stay on overnight to promote optimal healing.
Compression therapy is a daily treatment, meaning you must wear your garments seven days a week for the duration of time that’s prescribed. Pregnancy-induced edema may only require a few months of daily compression garment wear, for example, while poor circulation may call for daily compression sock use indefinitely (for life).
Compression therapy that works for you
Wearing your compression garments as instructed is key to attaining the circulation-boosting, edema-reducing benefits they provide. Our team strives to make compression therapy as easy, comfortable, and “doable” as possible, so you can adhere to your treatment plan with minimal effort — and enjoy the health improvements that come with your success.
If you have questions about compression therapy, we have answers. Call or click online to schedule an appointment at your nearest Vascular Vein Centers office in College Park of Orlando, Waterford Lakes of East Orlando, Kissimmee, Davenport/Haines City, Lake Mary, or The Villages, Florida.