Aging & Health A to Z
Varicose Veins and Other Vein Disorders
Care & Treatment
You can take steps to help prevent vein problems from becoming more serious.
Elastic Support Stockings (Compression Stockings)
Wearing support stockings is usually the first step in treating vein problems. Though they don’t get rid of your vein problems, they can help improve pain, swelling, and other symptoms.
Your healthcare provider will help determine the stocking style, size, and amount of compression (tightness) that is right for you. Some stockings can be purchased without a prescription. You may also purchase stockings online, sometimes at a discounted price. Or, you may get a prescription for stockings that need to be measured and fitted by a pharmacist or medical supplier.
It’s up to your healthcare provider to decide whether compression stockings are right for you. If you have circulation problems due to diabetes or other conditions, compression stockings can worsen your condition, so please talk to your healthcare provider first.
Tips on using compression stockings
- Put the stockings on as soon as you get out of bed and keep them on all day.
- Replace the stockings when they begin to lose their elasticity and tightness, usually every 3 to 4 months.
- Compression stockings can be hard to put on, especially if you have problems using your hands. Pharmacies and medical supply store sell devices that can help you put the stockings on.
- Unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise, remove your stockings at night.
- Notify your healthcare provider if your toes become cold, blue, painful or numb while wearing the compression stockings.
If you develop skin ulcers (sores) on your legs or feet, see your healthcare provider. He or she may suggest treating them with antibiotics, foot soaks, and surgical or chemical cleansing.
If you have vein problems, your healthcare provider may prescribe anticoagulants (blood thinners) to prevent blood clots from forming. Aspirin is usually the first treatment--a coated, low-dose (81 mg) aspirin once a day. If you are taking a long airplane flight, your healthcare provider may advise you to take a full dose aspirin (325 mg) a day or two before and after you fly.
If you have a blood clot, you may need an injection of a stronger anticoagulant (such as heparin) followed by an oral anticoagulant (such as warfarin) for a period of several months. Your healthcare provider will monitor your blood clotting time frequently while you are taking these medications.
If you are undergoing surgery, or if you are unable to move around during hospitalization, talk with your healthcare provider about whether you should receive treatment to prevent deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
Cosmetic surgery can remove varicose veins temporarily, but they usually return. Healthcare professionals usually avoid invasive surgery in older adults, because the risk of receiving anesthesia is not worth the cosmetic results. These types of surgeries include stripping (removing) veins or tying off the veins. However, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery if serious varicose veins lead to skin ulcers, bleeding, blood clots, or deep vein thrombosis. Some newer, non-surgical treatments with lasers might be an option for you. Your healthcare provider will talk with you about which of a variety of surgical procedures is best for you.
Updated: July 2017
Posted: March 2012