In order to talk about compression as it relates to post-surgical recovery, it actually helps to differentiate between recovery’s stages: post-op in hospital & post-surgical at home. The reason for this is that there are different types of compression garments for different stages of recovery.

Post Op anti-embolism stockings If you’ve had a surgery in the past, you’ve likely worn or heard about “anti-embolism” (anti-em) stockings. They’re white with a hole in the toe and the most common type of compression used in a hospital environment immediately after surgery. Designed specifically for immobile patients, they’re knit with a compression profile intended for wearers lying down in a horizontal position. While these are incredibly important, they shouldn’t be confused with medical compression stockings. This is a common misconception, however the two items are not interchangeable.

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Post-surgical graduated compression Medical compression stockings contain a graduated compression profile designed for patients who are vertical, active, and mobile – not lying down. This is why when we hear people say they’re wearing the same item they had when they were in the hospital, it’s a little scary! They’re for totally different needs. If your doc told you to get compression stockings for after surgery, it’s most likely she’s referring to graduated compression – not anti-em. If in doubt, double check by asking directly. It’s also helpful to ask whether they have any specific compression level suggestions for your condition & intended use (ex: 15-20 mmHg or 20-30 mmHg).

Tips for selecting compression stockings before surgery When given the instruction to purchase compression for an upcoming surgery, set aside enough time so you’re not rushed right before the procedure. Often we receive frantic calls from patients just a day or two before they’re due to go under. In this case, we’re left with no option but to overnight their item with fingers crossed they ordered the exact item intended. Aside from the added cost of overnight shipping, this also causes stress that can be avoided with a little preparation. If you have a procedure on the horizon and compression is part of your recovery tools, research & order (or pickup) the item you’ll need ahead of time so you’re relaxed and ready come surgery morning!   This also saves last minute shipping charges & provides you time to make a swap in the case sizing or something else isn’t quite right with your first purchase.

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In addition to considering compression level & type (anti-em vs graduated) when picking out your post-surgical compression, consider what will be most important to you during recovery. Is it look, feel, ease of getting on and off? If you’re coming right out of surgery & planning on being at home for a while, you might want something different than if you were shopping for your every day fashion needs. When looking for max ease & comfort – go for an opaque. Sometimes they’re a little easier to get on because you’re less worried about snagging them as you would with a sheer garment. They’re also a little warmer & cozier if you feel like snuggling under a blanket.

Compression Pumps for Surgery While you’re in surgery or immediately coming out of it, you might see things hooked up to your legs pumping air in and out. Don’t worry – you haven’t turned into a robot! These are called pneumatic compression pumps and they’re designed for purposes similar to an anti-embolism stocking (i.e. to help prevent blood clots during prolonged periods of immobility after surgery). Also like the anti-em socks, they’re for immobile patients and used to help the blood pump back upward toward your heart while horizontal. These fun tools aren’t pretty but they’re effective. Our advice is to surrender and embrace them! They’re just temporary.

Compression for after Sclerotherapy As with all medical treatments, ask your physician if you’re planning a sclerotherapy procedure and have been told to purchase compression for after surgery. The questions to ask when you get him/her on the phone are: What compression level & what length should I wear? We receive many calls from wearers asking how to select the best item specifically for this procedure. Consider where most of the veins on which you’re having work done are located. If the veins of issue are all confined to below the knee, then a knee high may do the trick. However if some of the area you’re treating is above the knee inn the thigh area, you’ll more likely need a full-length solution. We often we find vein docs request 20-30 mmHg for post-sclero recovery, however this varies physician to physician. Some even suggest 15-20 mmHg.

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