Varicose veins affect up to 35% of people in the United States, though women outpace men by about two to one. Whether you have a history of varicose veins or you simply want to prevent them in the first place, understanding the role that compression can play in these efforts is important.
At Upper East Side Cardiology’s Vein Institute, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and our vascular team have extensive experience helping our clients to ward off varicose veins, as well as eliminate those that have already developed.
Let’s take a look.
The primary cause of varicose veins
The veins in your legs have to surmount some significant hurdles when it comes to delivering blood back up to your heart — namely distance and gravity. To help, these veins are equipped with tiny, one-way valves that close when blood passes through, preventing it from spilling backward and pooling in your blood vessels.
Also engaged in the effort are your calf muscles — each time they contract, they apply pressure to your veins, which helps them to keep the blood flowing upward.
If the veins and valves in your legs weaken, it can lead to a condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). When CVI develops, your risks for developing varicose veins increases exponentially as blood can pool in your veins, causing them to bulge and push against the surface of your skin.
A little pressure
If you have CVI or you’re at risk for developing CVI, providing a little extra support for your veins can be very beneficial. This support should come in the form of compression stockings, which apply pressure to your lower legs to support the flow of blood upward.
When it comes to using compression stockings, there are some dos and don’ts. First, you should put on these stockings before your feet hit the floor in the morning. When you sleep, your veins enjoy a break as it’s easier to push the blood when you’re horizontal. To prevent the sudden loading that comes with getting up after hours of lying down, you should don your stockings before you get out of bed.
There are also different levels of compression in these stockings, so we urge you to come see us for a vein evaluation before getting started. For example, if you have CVI, but you don’t have any outward symptoms, such as varicose or spider veins, you want to select stockings that deliver mild pressure.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve already developed problematic veins, you may need to wear much tighter compression stockings.
Again, after a vein evaluation, we can point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing the best stockings for your needs.
Treating varicose veins
If you’ve already developed varicose veins, compression stockings can help prevent more from forming and existing varicose veins from worsening.
It’s important to note that once a varicose veins develops, it usually doesn’t go away on its own. If you’re bothered by these veins, rest assured, we offer a number of treatment options that can close off and seal these veins, forcing your blood into healthier vessels.
To learn more about compression and varicose veins or to explore your treatment options for existing veins, please contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side.