10 Alarming Side Effects of Wearing Compression Stockings

Did you know that wearing compression stockings has some mild side effects? Learn about them in this article.

Varicose veins is more common than people would think with statistics showing that about 23% of American adults have varicose veins.

If you include the number of people with vein conditions such as spider and reticular veins that number goes to as high as 85 percent.

It’s insane, I know.

With such high numbers, that means you probably have some vein condition and you don’t know it. Not to worry though, varicose veins is neither life nor limb-threatening.

What does this have to do with compression stockings?

Well, these stockings are used to aid in conditions that cause poor blood flow in your legs; conditions such as varicose veins.



Compression stockings are fabrics specially designed to apply controlled pressure to your lower legs in order to help maintains blood pressure.

They are also worn to reduce discomfort and swelling.

This is a delicate craft however since the pressure needs to be just right to avoid the side effects of wearing compression stockings.

Compression socks may also be worn by sportsmen to aid in performance. They come in different strengths and sizes so ensure you consult your doctor to get the right fit for you.

Generally, the compression stockings are tighter around your ankle and get less tight as they move up your leg. A common alternative is compression socks which serve the same purpose.

They are available off-counter although your insurance can cover them if prescribed by a doctor.

It is advisable to wear them in the morning and remove them before you sleep unless advised otherwise by your doctor.


Who Should Use Compression Stockings?

These are people who would be in a position to wear them without getting severely affected by the side effects of wearing compression stockings.

  • Persons who have just gotten surgery around the leg area.
  • Athletes
  • People with circulation problems like varicose veins.
  • If your legs feel numb abnormally often.
  • Pregnant women.
  • It may also be good if you stand all day at your job; for comfort purposes.


Who Should Not Wear Compression Stockings?

Conversely, if you have any of these conditions it would not be a good idea to wear compression stockings. If you do, you may experience the side effects of wearing compression stockings at uncanny levels.

  • Peripheral artery disease.
  • Massive oedema especially in the legs or feet.
  • Neuropathy or any other neural impairment.
  • Skin conditions such as cellulitis.


How Do Compression Stockings Work?

These stockings work by applying pressure on your legs thereby enhancing blood flow in said area.

As earlier stated, they have different levels of pressure measured in mmHg (millimetres of Mercury). The stockings should be snug, not tight; there’s a difference.

This is vital in order to steer clear of the side effects of wearing compression stockings.

These are the available options;

  • Low compression: Pressure delivered is less than 20mmHg. You generally cannot go wrong with this level of pressure.
  • Medium compression: Pressure delivered ranges between 20 and 30mmHg. This level is great to control mild swelling and varicose veins.
  • High Compression: Pressure delivered is between 30 and 40 mmHg. This is well-suited for severe pain and swelling.
  • Firm Compression: Pressure delivered is a hefty 40-50 mmHg. This should be reserved for those with a history of severed vein problems or blood clotting.


Benefits of Compression Stockings

There are quite a few benefits to be had from these compression stockings. From medically related to just bare comfort.

Enhances Blood Flow

The veins benefit the most since they rely on natural body movement to enable blood flow. Compression stockings give them that extra boost.

They Ease Swelling in Your Feet and Ankles

In addition, compression stockings may ease swelling in your feet and ankles.

Heck, they may even stop you from feeling lightheaded when you stand up.

May Improve Performance in Athletes

Some athletes including runners and basketball players swear by these stockings.

The premise is that during activity, it enhances blood flow to the engaged muscles. Some athletes even go to the extent of getting compression sleeves as well.

The support also supposedly aids to alleviate tissue damage and hasten the recovery process since the muscles will be ‘juiced up’ with blood.

These claims are however more faith-based since studies show there is little to no effect on athletic performance.

But hey, if that many athletes swear by it, there may be more to it than meets the eye.

Management of Venous Diseases

Compression stockings play an important role in managing venous diseases such as venous ulcers. They also aid in preventing thromboembolic disease of the deep venous system in the legs.


Side Effects

Before we begin this list of side effects of wearing compression stockings, it is worth noting that if done correctly, the chance of complications is rare.

Now that that is out of the way, here is a concise list of possible side effects of wearing compression stockings.

  1. It May Cause Discomfort in The Legs

    Discomfort is one of the more common side effects of wearing compression stockings. If discomfort is experienced this is a sign of two things;

    • Your compression socks are too small a fit for you, or
    • The compression is too firm for you.

    If either of these is confirmed, consult your physician for a fresh pair.

    Bonus tip, if it is also too loose, it indicates that it is not right for you since it will not be effective.

  2. It May Cause Skin Irritation and Damage

    Another of the side effects of wearing compression stockings is skin irritation. It may manifest in the form of itching, redness, tingling and in severe cases even bruising.

    This could be caused by factors such as abrasive stocking material, improper fitting or sensitive skin. If you are prone to skin damage this may not be an option for you.

  3.  Poor Circulation

    This is another one of the side effects of wearing compression stockings that are linked to misfitted compression stockings.

    The main purpose of compression stockings is to aid in blood circulation in the feet. However, if the stockings are too firm, it beats the point and actually inhibits blood circulation in said area.

    This goes to show the importance of ensuring the stockings are well-fitted.

  4. It May Cause Pressure Ulcers

    This is one of the more severe side effects of wearing compression stockings. It is an extension of the skin irritation side effect.

    Studies show that in severe cases, the skin may break and cause pressure ulcers due to prolonged and excessive pressure.

    Be sure to check on your legs once in a while for the appearance of ulcers. This is thankfully a rare occasion and is almost entirely caused by excess pressure.

    If the pressure is right this is unlikely to occur.


This depends on your condition or needs. You can wear them all day long although you should not sleep with them.

Alternatively, you can wear them for hours at a time. Ultimately, you still need to talk to your doctor before making them part of your health regime.

Most doctors recommend wearing compression socks daily for maximum efficacy. However, you will need to wash them every day.
It is thus recommended to have at least 2 pairs for this purpose.
Hygiene is key.
Generally, compression stockings that are worn and washed daily maintain their elasticity for about 6 months before they are rendered ineffective.


Despite the fact the application of compression stockings may appear simple, I cannot stress enough how misfitted and/or inappropriately worn stockings can lead to non-negligible problems.

In order to keep your chances of experiencing the side effects of wearing compression stockings at a minimum, ensure the stockings are just right.

And for the athletes, the stockings may be worth a shot even though the performance benefits are based on shaky grounds. At the very least, you will look cool wearing them.


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