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How long should I wear compression stockings after surgery?

Your surgeon, or another healthcare professional who is responsible for your care, will advise you on how long you should wear compression stockings after your operation and how to use them correctly.

When compression stockings are recommended after surgery, patients are usually advised to wear them as much as possible, day and night, until they're able to move around freely.

Compression stockings are used after surgery to prevent blood clots developing in the leg, which is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

They are normally recommended if is likely that you will be unable to move around much after surgery; either due to the after-effects of surgery or having another medical condition affecting your mobility.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has more advice on using compression stockings to reduce the risk of DVT.

Who needs compression stockings after surgery?

When you're admitted to hospital, your risk of DVT will be assessed to decide whether you need compression stockings. You may need to wear stockings even if you're able to leave hospital on the same day as your operation..

Your risk of developing DVT may be increased if your:

  • mobility is expected to be significantly reduced for three or more days
  • operation lasts more than 90 minutes
  • operation lasts more than 60 minutes and is on your pelvis or one of your legs

Reducing your risk of DVT

Wearing compression stockings is one way of reducing your risk of developing DVT. Your risk can also be reduced by making sure you drink enough fluids (check with your surgeon how much you should be drinking), and moving around as soon as possible after your operation. In some cases, anticoagulant medication may be prescribed to prevent blood clots. Read more about preventing DVT.

Read more answers to questions about operations, tests and procedures.

Further information: 

Page last reviewed: 01/02/2016

Next review due: 01/02/2018