Compression stockings or socks are elastic garments that you wear around your legs to enhance blood circulation from your legs to your heart. Because elastic hosiery improves circulation and provides support, it is often prescribed by healthcare providers to people with leg vein problems and disorders, such as varicose veins, venous insufficiency, leg ulcers, and lymphedema, among others. Wearing compression stockings, socks, or sleeves can significantly relieve unpleasant symptoms, which include tired and achy legs.
People who have recently undergone treatment through certain surgical procedures may benefit from wearing compression garments. Healthcare providers usually recommend the use of compression garments when patients are unable or less likely to move around after their surgery. In most cases, patients have limited movements after having mild or major surgery. They are also advised to have plenty of rest after their surgery to help reduce pain and avoid causing unnecessary injury or stress to their body. Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, or walkers may also be required all throughout your recovery.
Although compression stockings or socks can be quite challenging to put on if you have limited mobility, particularly after your surgery, know that they can help you achieve a faster recovery and help prevent the development of blood clots in your legs. Let’s take an in-depth look at the benefits of compression socks after surgery:
1. Prevent Leg Vein Problems
Post-surgery recovery and therapy often take some time and may require plenty of rest. You may be required to remain completely inactive or partially immobile depending on the type of surgical procedure you had. Although rest is beneficial after surgery, being immobile for a few days up to weeks can also have a bad effect since it can increase your risk of developing potentially life-threatening medical conditions, such as DVT or deep vein thrombosis.
Deep vein thrombosis is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins of your arms, legs, or pelvis. A blood clot can block the flow of blood or break off and travel all the way to your brain, lungs, or heart causing serious problems. The risk of developing deep vein thrombosis also tends to increase the longer you’re immobile after your surgery. Being active encourages muscle movements, which enable the proper pumping of blood to the heart.
Aside from prolonged inactivity, surgical procedures can also increase your risk of having blood clots since foreign substances, such as fat, collagen, and tissue debris could also be released into your bloodstream during surgery. When this happens, blood tends to thicken, which then leads to coagulation or clot formation. The release of certain particles to your bloodstream may also trigger the body to release particular substances that naturally initiate blood clotting.
One way to help prevent these post-surgical problems is by wearing compression garments. Deep vein thrombosis often occurs in the deep vein of your legs due to poor circulation, so using compression stockings or socks after surgery can help provide enough pressure to maintain proper blood flow even when you are confined to your bed.
2. Prevent or Reduce Swelling
One of the side effects of surgery is swelling. The severity of this side effect also depends on the type of surgery, site of incision, and health of the patient, including specific treatments received prior to surgery. When you are confined in your bed for a longer period of time, swelling can develop and delay the healing process.
By using compression hosiery after your surgery, swelling can be prevented or relieved. Your healthcare provider is usually the one who will prescribe you with the medical-grade compression garment you need. It comes it different levels of graduation depending on your condition. Compression garments are also available in different types, lengths, and brands. A variety of colors, designs, or patterns are also available to suit your personal style. Compression stockings generally provide more compression at your ankles and then gradually decrease toward your upper legs. Compression garments also have other features, which you may want to consider before purchasing one.
It is very important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions when compression hosiery is recommended after your surgery. Compression stockings or socks are often worn all day and night until you are capable of moving around by yourself.
3. Promote a Safe Recovery
Using compression garments promotes both a safer and faster recovery after any type of surgery. Wearing compression stockings or socks while lying in bed post-surgery can help prevent blood clots from forming. It enables a safer recovery since compression garments also prevent other injuries or conditions from developing. Compression stockings work by stimulating the movement of blood through the veins in your legs, preventing blood to collect or pool in your leg veins.
There is also a higher risk of blood clot formation in patients who have undergone orthopedic surgery, such as joint replacement procedures. For these patients, the use of compression socks is a must in their road to recovery. Their healthcare provider will be the one who will prescribe the type of compression socks they need along with providing recommendations on how long they’ll be wearing the socks to have a better and successful outcome of their surgery.
Even though putting on compression socks after surgery can be bothersome and challenging, don’t let these obstacles keep you from reaping its benefits. Yes, they can be tight, but for a good cause. Moreover, recovering after your surgery isn’t always complicated, but it often involves patience and extra energy to diligently follow your surgeon’s instructions to have a safer and better recovery.
Surgical patients who fail to follow their doctor’s instructions after their surgery eventually experience prolonged discomforts, pain, and a slower healing process. Wearing compression garments after surgery can help the vein in your legs to properly function and contribute to your full recovery. Knowing what you can do to hasten your post-operative recovery can also help you return to your daily normal activities in no time.
Department of Surgery - Deep Vein Thrombosis. (2018). Surgery.ucsf.edu. Retrieved from https://surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions--procedures/deep-vein-thrombosis.aspx
Deep Vein Thrombosis and Post-Thrombotic Syndrome. (2012). Vascular Disease Foundation. Retrieved from http://vasculardisease.org/flyers/focus-on-compression-stockings-flyer.pdf
What is Venous Thromboembolism? | CDC. (January 2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/dvt/facts.html
A Patient’s Guide to Recovery After Deep Vein Thrombosis or Pulmonary Embolism | Circulation. (April 2014). Retrieved from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.006285