Compression stockings are special socks that improve blood flow in the leg veins and prevent blood from pooling in the legs. They are woven in a special way so that they are tighter near the feet and gradually become looser as they go up the leg. This steady squeezing of the legs helps blood flow out of the leg veins and back towards the heart. Compression stockings come in a variety of styles, strengths, and sizes. The choice of stocking depends on how severe and widespread your vein disease is, and how much compression you need to keep blood from pooling in the legs. Your doctor will measure your legs and tell you which type of stocking is right for you. Stockings are available in a range of sizes, brands and look the same as regular hosiery. The most common type of compression stockings extend from your toes to knees or to your mid-thigh. Stockings come in various strengths, given as a pressure in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The higher the number, the stronger they are. Your doctor will measure your legs to ensure proper sizing and tell you what strength of stockings you should buy.
Lower-strength compression stockings (10-21 mm Hg) are often used to prevent deep vein thrombosis in lower-risk women, and to treat spider veins and swelling caused by mild chronic vein disease. Stronger prescription stockings (23–50 mm Hg or more) may be necessary if you have already had a deep vein thrombosis or are at high risk for one, or if you have severe chronic vein disease. Read more about varicose veins here.