Are Compression Support Stockings to Treat Varicose Veins a Waste?

Are Compression Support Stockings to Treat Varicose Veins a Waste?

Don’t Waste Your Time Using Stockings for Treatment Purposes

Compression support stockings to treat your varicose veins have been supported by the strongest medical evidence to be a complete waste of your time.

You can wear them to make your legs feel better. But not to treat veins to try to improve varicose veins.

That is an important distinction.

This article will give you all of the references to the most widely accepted publications on the subject.

This isn’t the typical generic article published about support stockings and varicose veins.

We will reveal the real reasons why vein specialists don’t really think support stockings are a good idea any more.

  • This article will briefly review the medical literature to support this view.
  • This article will discuss how varicose vein doctors are forced to recommend compression support stockings before any treatments are considered because insurance companies demand it.
  • This article will also tell you why insurance companies require compression stockings first as a trial of conservative medical management.

Please read on to find out all of the reasons that support stockings are usually just a waste of your time, your effort, and your money.

Let’s get started.

If You Have Varicose Veins, Find a Specialist in Veins 

The following evidence is the latest evidence. These are the most referenced articles from vein specialists around the world.

Overwhelming evidence recommends that doctors stop prescribing support stockings instead of having the varicose veins treated with modern minimally invasive techniques.

  1. “Wearing compression improved symptom management but the current published evidence could not support wearing compression to slow the progression, or prevent the recurrence of varicose veins.”

    Phlebology. 2009;24 Suppl 1:13-33.

The following two consensus articles and statements recommend that definitive treatment to get rid of varicose veins is preferred to a trial of support stockings first.

The following two references are the most rigorous and comprehensive varicose vein treatment recommendations published in the world. They unequivocally recommend NOT using compression support stockings before the treatment of varicose veins.

  1. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) studies in the United Kingdom in July 2013 recommended that patients should be referred to a vascular clinic first for varicose vein treatment rather than just prescribing compression support stockings.

3.  In May 2011, The Journal of Vascular Surgery published the definitive article proving that a person who is a candidate for a venous procedure with varicose veins who are symptomatic should simply have them treated with modern venous procedures.

No delays.

No trials of conservative therapy first.

Point being, compression support stockings should definitely not be the first line of treatment.

Many of us already understand this intuitively.


Exciting New Information About Varicose Vein Treatments

Why Do Many Doctors Recommend Starting With Compression Support Stockings?

Do you want to know the real reason that insurance companies want you to try compression support stockings for three months before any procedures are done?

When you have met your deductible near the end of the year, many people want to have their veins fixed or removed with minimally invasive techniques.

To stop this end of the year rush in insurance claims, insurance companies mandate that you try wearing compression stockings first for three months.

From a business standpoint, insurance companies consider your use of your medical insurance for any reason “a loss.”

If you have to wait three months after your initial visit to the vein doctor, there may not be time until the end of the year when your deductible starts again in January.

The truth of the matter is – if you don’t make an insurance claim, they win. (No loss for them.)

Many people and their employers are switching to plans with higher deductibles.

Unless your veins are severely symptomatic, you may defer definitive treatment if your deductible has not been met. Many people will end up doing that indefinitely until their deductibles have been met.

When you have met your deductible near the end of the year, you may want to have your veins fixed or removed with the modern minimally invasive techniques.

However, insurance companies require that you try wearing compression stockings first. If you have to wait three months after your initial visit to the vein doctor, there may not be time until the end of the year when your deductible starts again.

Many people and their employers are switching to plans with higher deductibles.

Unless your veins are symptomatic, you may defer definitive treatment. Many people will end up doing that indefinitely as deductibles continue to rise.

Therefore, trying medical compression support stockings first saves them money!

Here are other reasons that insurance companies and their actuaries make you try support stockings first.

Insurance Companies Rules

By using delaying tactics, insurance companies will save from paying for expensive treatment of your varicose veins. During that three month trial of wearing compression support stockings:

  • You could change to another insurance plan
  • You could move
  • You may lose interest in treatment if the weather becomes warmer
  • You may live in a warm or hot climate where you can’t tolerate compression support stockings
  • You may be too frail or cannot physically pull them on so you won’t qualify for treatment
  • You could even die before your veins can be treated
  • Your deductible will no longer have been met

All of these scenarios are the additional reasons that insurance companies demand that you try conservative treatment with support stockings before any actual treatments begin.

However, many older people just can’t pull them on because of insufficient flexibility or hand and upper body strength.

Most people say that the stockings are too hot and uncomfortable.

Conservative medical management for varicose veins is against vein specialist’s recommendations in every English speaking country in the world.

Will Support Stockings Help My Symptoms from Varicose Veins?

Yes. Temporarily.

The biggest problem with wearing compression support stockings every day is compliance.

Most people either cannot pull these heavy and hot stockings on every morning – especially in the warm summer months. Most people find them extremely uncomfortable.

A few patient’s symptoms become worse with the use of stockings.

Natural or home remedies for varicose veins including flavonoids may be partially helpful. In addition, frequent short walks, elevation, and weight loss will also be beneficial.

Regularly wearing elastic support stockings can compress your veins, helping the blood to better flow and avoiding varicose veins and spider veins.

For most patients, compression stockings do help to slow the process of developing more veins that are varicose.

In addition, many patients do report relief of some of their swelling and pain symptoms when wearing compressions stockings.

However, compression stockings will not remove or cure the varicose veins that are already present; they may just make them feel better.

Moreover, although compression stockings do slow the spread of varicose veins, the veins will continue to worsen over time despite the use of compression stockings.

In addition, the compression stockings do need to be worn continuously everyday to have an adequate effect.

Some varicose vein patients do not get relief of symptoms with the use of stockings.

A few patients report that their symptoms are worse when wearing them. However, stockings will not cause your veins to get worse.

Compression stockings can help with the symptoms of varicose veins but will not help prevent new ones after they are removed.

Stockings act by compressing the veins, making them functional once again by decreasing the backward flow of blood toward the feet.

As everyone knows, as soon as they are removed, their effectiveness stops.

Ah, there’s the rub.

When you stop wearing support stockings the previous benefits goes away.

Therefore, the bottom line is just get your varicose veins fixed by an experienced and qualified vascular specialist.

Just make sure that they are really vascular experts and not self-proclaimed experts who really trained in another field.

How Long Do Compression Support Stockings Last?

Most people find it difficult to throw away a pair of support stockings that have no defects, runners or holes in them.

However, if you wear them every day, they will only last three to four months. They will lose their elasticity and become less effective.

Most insurance companies have set limitations on the number of compression support stockings that they will pay for in one year.

Many commercial insurance companies have stopped covering them altogether.

Medicare no longer pays for compression support stockings at all.

My opinion is that is despicable.

If you will wear them for more than a few months, you should get two pairs. You can wash one pair while you are wearing the second pair.

If you are just wearing them around the time of a procedure to get rid of them, then one pair will do.

Conclusion: Advice from a Vascular Surgeon with Over Thirty Years of Experience Treating Varicose Veins

If you’ve been holding off treating on your varicose veins, the best time to act is now.

Consider this – cold weather is the ideal time of year to consider having your unsightly and painful varicose veins removed.

Wearing compression stockings is often required before and after the medical procedures to treat your varicose veins.

Most patients are reluctant to consider having procedures during the hot summer months because of the heavy and uncomfortable compression support stockings.

By the time summer comes, your legs will be in good shape to enjoy outdoor activities including going to the beach or pool.

Imagine not having to hide your legs when you wear shorts or a bathing suit ever again.

Besides the obvious cosmetic benefits, your legs will be healthy and feeling good again.

If these large veins are left untreated, they will inevitably get larger and more painful. Circulation problems including, blood clots, phlebitis, and ulceration can result from neglected varicose veins.

Isn’t it time that you take the time to treat your veins?

You deserve it.

Call 724-969-0600 to learn more.

About The Author

Dr. John Happel

Dr. John Happel has been in practice as a surgeon since 1986 in the Pittsburgh region. He specializes in vascular surgery and has subspecialized in the treatment of varicose and spider veins since 1999. Dr. Happel is board certified in vascular surgery and recertified in vascular surgery in 2012. He was chosen in 1985 to fulfill the position for the vascular surgical fellowship at the world renowned Mayo Clinic.