If you've been prescribed compression stockings for a condition that affects your circulation, you may need to wear them for several years or, in some cases, for the rest of your life.
What are compression stockings for?
Compression stockings are specially designed to apply pressure to your lower legs, helping to maintain blood flow, and reduce discomfort and swelling. They may be prescribed by your GP if you have a condition that causes poor blood flow in your legs, such as:
- varicose veins (swollen and enlarged veins)
- lymphoedema (when your body's tissues swell up painfully)
Wearing compression stockings
Compression stockings come in a variety of sizes, lengths and colours. They're also available with different strengths of compression.
Your legs will be measured to see what size stockings you need, and your GP or nurse will check they fit properly. You may need to wear them on both legs or just on one.
You should wear your compression stockings during the day and take them off before going to bed. Put them on again first thing in the morning.
You should be given at least two stockings, or two pairs if you're wearing them on both legs. This means you can wear one stocking (or pair) while the other is being washed and dried. Hand-wash your stockings at about 40ºC/104ºF (comfortable hand temperature) and dry them away from direct heat.
Your GP will monitor your progress. You should have your legs measured again and your stockings replaced every three to six months.