Compression Therapy and Vein Disease
Patients sometimes wonder why they must wear compression hose as part of their treatment for varicose veins. They feel bound in by the hose at times and wonder if they are really necessary. Since compression therapy is an important part of our treatment at Reeder Vein Institute, we’ll explain it.
What is a vein and what is a varicose vein?
A vein is a blood vessel that carries blood whose oxygen has been mostly used up from the body back up to the lungs and heart. Veins are like the return highway back to home. In the legs, that route is uphill, fighting gravity the entire way.
Sometimes the flow through the veins loses its efficiency and the blood doesn’t move through the veins, instead pooling. The causes of this phenomenon, which leads to both varicose and spider veins, isn’t fully understood. In some cases the patient’s valves (whose job it is to stop backflow) in the veins are weak and the blood can back up in spots causing a bulge in the vein. In other cases, the vein wall can be weak and in times of slower flow pressure pushes outward rather than up through the vein. In rarer cases, varicose veins care caused by diseases of the veins such as phlebitis or congenital abnormalities of the veins.
Treatment of varicose and spider veins
In most cases, varicose and spider veins don’t necessarily require treatment. But patients don’t like the bulging veins (varicose) or squiggly blue/purple/red veins coursing just below the skin surface (spider) on their legs (primarily varicose veins) and face (spider veins).
We can use vein stripping, where a problematic vein is basically pulled out through a small incision near the groin on varicose veins. On spider veins, we’ll usually remove them through sclerotherapy, which involves injecting a saline solution into the vein causing it to close off and fade away.
But for patients who don’t want these treatments, compression can be all that is needed.
What is compression therapy?
As a person walks, the contraction and relaxation of the calf muscles around the veins aid in moving blood upwards towards the heart. When the patient’s natural leg circulation isn’t up to par, compression hose can act as a beneficial additional muscle layer. They can do this by gently squeezing the stretched vein walls together, allowing the valves to close and blood to stop from pooling. Without pooling, normal blood flow returns and overall circulation improves.
Compression hose are usually graduated to help with this process. The pressure exerted by the hose is greatest at the ankle and decreases as you move upward. Compression could be thought of as 100 percent at the ankle, 50 to 80 percent at mid-calf, and 20 to 40 percent at mid-thigh.
If you don’t like the visible signs of your varicose veins, or are having some of the symptoms such as the feeling of tired, heavy, or aching limbs, call us at Reeder Vein Institute, 682-499-5672, and let’s see how we can help.