Do you have major surgery? Compression stockings may play an important role in how quickly your body recovers after surgery. Doctors often recommend post-operative compression stockings to facilitate recovery and prevent a complication called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. In some cases, wearing compression stockings after surgery can have a life-or-death impact on the outcome of the surgery.
Why should I wear compression stockings after surgery? How can something as simple as wearing knee-high compression socks after surgery make such a big difference? How long should I wear compression stockings after surgery?
There are at least seven different benefits of post-operative compression stockings, although wearing post-operative compression stockings should include an explicit conversation with your doctor first. Here are the main benefits of postoperative compression stockings:
How long to wear compression stockings after surgery
Wearing compression stockings after surgery can improve blood circulation.
Surgery patients have two competing needs after surgery. It is important to keep the incision site stable to avoid interfering with the suture. But it's important to keep your blood flowing even when you can't flex your major muscles. Post-operative progressive compression keeps blood flowing by applying gentle, tapering pressure to the leg. This increases blood circulation even when the patient is confined to bed rest.
Wearing compression stockings after surgery can prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Deep vein thrombosis (also called DVT) is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in the blood pool of an inactive vein. These clots can circulate back into the lungs or heart with potentially fatal consequences. Symptoms of DVT include heat in the legs, redness or discoloration of the skin, and tenderness. Surgery increases the risk of DVT, but clinical studies show that wearing compression stockings after surgery reduces the risk of DVT by more than half.
Wearing compression stockings after surgery can reduce swelling.
Swelling after surgery is not uncommon. Some postoperative swelling is expected. The special woven fabric in compression socks does not allow the skin to swell, so fluid is forced out of the legs and into the systemic circulation, rather than settling in one place.
Wearing compression stockings after surgery can prevent varicose and spider veins.
It's not uncommon to have varicose or spider veins after surgery, especially after calf surgery. Circulation in the tiny veins becomes sluggish, and the walls of the veins expand to accommodate the pooled blood. Spider veins are primarily a cosmetic concern. On the other hand, varicose veins can become itchy. They can be painful or tingling. If the skin is cut, they bleed freely. They can even fester. Postoperative compression stockings improve blood circulation and reduce the formation of spider veins and varicose veins.
Wearing compression stockings after surgery can speed healing.
Compression socks improve blood circulation. They make it easier for oxygen and nutrients to reach the tissue affected by the incision. They help the drug flow to where it is needed. Compression stockings aren't a substitute for the wound care your doctor dictates and taking all your pills carefully, but they can help you get back on your feet faster -- often literally.
Compression stockings after knee surgery reduce swelling in the ankle and calf.
If you've had knee surgery, you may be asked to wear compression stockings on days when the ankle or calf of the affected leg appears to be swollen.
Post-operative compression stockings promote easy recovery.
All in all, the benefits of post-operative compression stockings can promote faster, safer, and simpler recovery after nearly any type of surgery. But there is also consideration of when to remove compression stockings after surgery.
So how long should you wear compression stockings after surgery? It is best to consult your doctor to see if they are recommended after surgery. If so, you should wear them day and night until you are able to walk freely again. Generally, wearing compression stockings at night provides the same benefits described above, but be sure to check with your doctor after surgery to be sure. For some procedures, such as ablating one or both saphenous veins in one leg, you will be instructed to put on compression stockings and not take them off until your doctor removes them. And in rare cases (like a rash on your legs) you shouldn't be wearing compression socks at all.
Now let's quickly review the role of postoperative compression stockings.
The benefits of post-operative compression stockings:
- Promote circulation.
- Prevent DVT.
- Prevent swelling.
- Prevent varicose and spider veins.
- Speed up healing.
- Reduce ankle and calf swelling after knee surgery.
- If there are no complications, it can recover faster and remain.