Wearing compression socks is considered one of the best ways to avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and ankle swelling. Blood clotting usually happens when on a long flight while ankle swelling may happen as a result of long flights or strenuous exercise.
It is therefore common to see people who fly frequently or athletes wearing compression socks to enhance their blood circulation. People who are new to wearing compression socks find confusing information in the internet about how long they should be wearing the socks. In a bid to demystify this subject, we have consulted several physicians and the following is what they had to say.
What the Doctors Say:
Wear Day-Long if you walk around a lot (e.g. Nurses and Teachers)
“Compression socks help to improve the venous circulation in the leg by resisting the tendency of the veins to dilate or enlarge due to the effects of standing and gravity. It is best to wear the hose when you are standing or sitting so would recommend wearing them at work if you have a job that requires frequent standing in one place such as with teachers and nurses. There is no benefit in wearing the hose in bed as lying flat allows for the easy flow of venous blood back to the heart, but if you forget to take them off it should also do no harm. Walking is very beneficial to reducing venous pressure and aiding venous circulation.” ~ Gregg A. Reger, MD
Wear when you have an underlying vein problem
“Compression stockings would be beneficial to wear when standing or sitting for long periods of time particularly if there is an underlying vein problem or problem with leg swelling. Wearing them while working is a good idea and they should not be worn to sleep. Compression stockings will not necessarily prevent varicose veins from forming especially if there is a family history. ~ Edward G. Mackay, MD, FACS
During your waking hours, depending on your problem
“Depending on why you are using them, generally patients wear them from the time they get up until they go to bed. It is very very uncommon to sleep in them.” ~ Richard Sadler, MD, FACS
Wear them always when flying, sitting or standing on one spot
“The benefits of medical graded compression stockings only work when you have them on. They may be used at your discretion, but should always be used when flying, or when sitting or standing in one spot for prolonged periods of time.” ~ Martin Franklin, D.O.
Wear for 14 days after an endogenous ablation
“After an endogenous ablation of varicose veins, the compression stockings should be worn for 14 days ideally (24 hrs for the first 3 days then during day time for the subsequent 11 days).” ~ Dr. Mel Ghaleb, MD
Wear compression socks when sitting or standing for long
“Compression stockings are beneficial when wore during times of prolonged standing or sitting. These are positions were the feet and lower legs are in a dependent position. When one has the opportunity to elevate one's legs in a recliner or when recumbent during sleep, the compression stockings are not necessary.” ~ Joseph Thomas Jenkins, MD
Wear compression socks during the day and remove at night for the best results
“For best results, compression stockings should be worn during the day and removed at bedtime.” ~ Mario T. Plaza-Ponte, MD
How Long To Wear Compression Socks after Surgery
If you have recently undergone a surgery, you are well advised to ask your physician for his (her) instructions about how long you should wear compression socks. Make sure you also get clear instructions on how you should wear the said socks.
It is custom that patients who have undergone a surgery get advice on when and how to wear compression socks. Generally, such patients are advised to wear the socks as much as possible – both day and night - until they are able to move around freely.
The compression socks are worn after surgery to prevent blood clots from developing in the leg in a condition commonly referred to as deep vein thrombosis.
The socks aids in blood circulation when it is determined that you will not be able to move around often and if the after effects of the surgery have create another medical condition that affects your mobility.
For more information about wearing compression socks immediately after surgery, visit the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence website.
Note that you will need compression socks to reduce the chances of DVT developing if; you have significant decrease in mobility for a period of more than 3 years; your surgery lasted more than 90 minutes, your surgery lasted more than 60 minutes and was around your pelvis or on your legs.
Wearing Compression Stockings
Compression Stockings come in a variety of colors, sizes, lengths, and strengths. Before settling on a particular size of socks, your legs will be measured by a general practitioner or nurse to see which fits best. They will then give you instructions on whether you will wear the compression socks on either one or both legs.
In most circumstances, you will be required to wear the socks during the day and remove them during the night. A good practice is to have a several pairs of the stocking and to have them replaced every 3 to 6 months.
In summary, compression socks will help you;
- Improve your blood circulation.
- Keep of swelling around your ankles since the blood will not pool around them.
- Relieve or get rid of the symptoms that are brought about by; DVT, skin ulcers or varicose veins.
Before you determine how long you should wear your compression socks, you will need to understand the reason why you need to wear them. Long term flyers will definitely have different needs compared to people recovering from surgery. Generally, you only need to wear the compression socks when you are going to sit or stand on one spot for a long time.