How long should I wear compression stockings to improve my circulation?

If you’ve been prescribed compression stockings for a condition that affects your circulation, you may need to wear them for several years and, in some cases, for the rest of your life.

If you need to wear compression stockings after having deep vein thrombosis (DVT), you should wear them for at least two years. DVT is a blood clot that forms in one of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs.

Compression stockings are also sometimes known as graduated compression stockings. They're different to anti-embolism stockings, which sometimes need to be worn after an operation.

For more information about anti-embolism stockings, see How long should I wear compression stockings after surgery?

What are compression stockings for?

Compression stockings are specially designed to apply pressure to your lower legs, helping to maintain blood flow and reducing discomfort and swelling. They may be prescribed by your GP for conditions that cause poor blood flow in your legs, such as:

Compression stockings may also be recommended after having DVT to prevent post-thrombotic syndrome (pain and swelling in your calf that can sometimes occur after having DVT).

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 on just one leg.

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 one pair) while the other one is being washed and dried. Hand wash your stockings at about 40°C (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 3-6 months.

Read answers to more questions about accidents, first aid and treatments.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 20/03/2014

Next review due: 19/03/2016