UNM Department of Surgery

Department of Surgery
Vascular Surgery Division

UNM School of Medicine
MSC 10 5610
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131
Phone: (505) 272-5850

Vascular Surgery

Compression Stockings

How Do Compression Stockings Help?

Compression stockings, also known as support hose, are elasticized socks that run from your toes to the knees and sometimes even further to the top of the leg. The stockings steadily apply pressure to the legs, preventing the pooling of blood in the veins. Though compression stockings do not cure varicose veins, they are very effective at alleviating symptoms and, depending on your situation, may be the first treatment approach UNM Vein & Cosmetic Center recommends before undergoing other vein treatment services.

Compression stockings, or support hose, come in various degrees of compression, measured in units known as millimeters of mercury or mmHG. The severity of your varicose veins determines the level of compression you need and those with high degrees of compression often require a prescription from a licensed physician.

Wearing Compression Stockings

It is important to wear your compression stockings, or support hose, as soon as you get out of bed before gravity can cause the blood to pool in your varicose veins. You have to wear these stockings all day for them to have effect. However, when you are lying down you should take them off and elevate your legs.

Compression stockings do not last forever and wear out over time, so they must be replaced when their compressive strength begins to weaken. UNM Vein & Cosmetic Center in Albuquerque, NM knows that it can sometimes be quite difficult for some people to put their compression stockings on, especially if the person has back problems, weak hands or arthritis. At our office, we use a tape measure to ensure the support stockings fit each person correctly and are not overly tight. If your stockings are a poor fit, venous flow can be obstructed.

We also carry devices that can help patients with the donning and doffing of compression stockings. These aids can help ensure a proper fit and reduce the amount of bending and gripping required, making it easier for patients to wear these stockings at home.