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Can Compression Stockings Dislodge A Clot?

Can Compression Stockings Dislodge A Clot?

Jan 25, 2024 | Blog

Compression stockings help enhance blood circulation and also prevent the formation of blood clots, particularly in the lower legs. These stockings exert graduated pressure on the legs, which is strongest at the ankle and gradually decreases towards the top of the stocking. It helps in enhancing venous blood flow, reducing venous pressure, and preventing venous stasis and impairment of venous walls. 

Compression stockings are commonly used in managing conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT), preventing clot formation during long periods of immobility (such as long flights or bed rest), and treating chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins.

At CACVI, we are dedicated to advancing knowledge and care practices for vascular health. With a team comprising vascular specialists like Dr. Khorsandi, we are committed to improving awareness on vascular health and helping you understand the complexities of compression therapy and its impact on clot dislodgement. 

With over 30 years experience in the field, Dr. Khorsandi has one of the highest success rates in performing complex cardiovascular and vascular interventions. He has also been issued 50 US and international patents in interventional cardiology and numerous other patents pending. If you’re experiencing issues with blood clots and have questions please reach out to us today!

The main question that arises with the use of compression stockings is whether they can dislodge a blood clot. This is a significant concern for patients with existing clots or those at high risk of clot formation. The potential risk lies in the possibility that the pressure exerted by the stocking might dislodge a clot that has formed in a vein, leading it to travel to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, which could result in serious complications like a pulmonary embolism.

Will it dislodge a clot? Compression stockings would not dislodge a clot, but they would help prevent other clots from forming.

Compression Stockings and Blood Clots

Compression Stockings and Blood Clots

Compression stockings play a significant role in both the prevention and management of blood clots. Wearing compression socks comes as a non-invasive approach to maintaining healthy blood flow in individuals at risk of clot formation.

In individuals at risk for DVT or those with a history of clotting disorders, wearing compression socks comes in handy. These compression stockings prevent DVT and also prevent the formation of a blood clot. 

While compression stockings are not a treatment for an existing blood clot, they are crucial in the management and prevention of further complications. In patients with a history of DVT, they help in reducing the chances of post-thrombotic syndrome, a condition characterized by swelling, pain, and skin changes at the site of the clot.

By using graduated compression stockings, you can enhance venous return. The pressure is highest at the ankle and decreases up the leg, which helps in moving the blood up toward the heart, countering the effects of gravity. This increased circulation reduces the likelihood of blood pooling and blood clot formation in the deep veins of the legs, a common site for DVT.

Compression socks also aid in decreasing the diameter of distended veins, which improves valve effectiveness. This can lead to a reduction in venous pressure, further decreasing the risk of blood pooling and blood clot formation.

In immobile patients, compression socks help in preventing venous stasis. It is a condition where blood flow slows down or stops in certain areas, increasing the risk of blood clotting.

For individuals with weakened or damaged vein walls like chronic venous insufficiency, compression socks support the veins, ensure blood flows freely, and reduce the risk of further vein damage and clotting.

Understanding Blood Clots

Understanding Blood Clots

A blood clot is a gel-like clump of blood that forms in the body’s vascular system. It is the body’s natural response to a blood vessel injury to prevent excessive bleeding. 

When a blood vessel is injured, platelets and proteins in the plasma work together to form a clot over the injury. However, clots can sometimes form when they aren’t needed or don’t dissolve naturally, leading to potential health issues.

Blood clots can develop for various reasons, and numerous risk factors increase their likelihood. One of such is immobility. When one stays for extended periods of inactivity, it slows down blood flow in the veins, especially in the legs. Thus, increasing clot risk. 

Major operations, especially those involving the abdomen, pelvis, hips, or legs, heighten the risk of clotting. Certain conditions like cancer and heart disease also increase clot risks. 

Pregnancy can increase the pressure in the veins in the pelvis and legs, raising clot risk. Therefore, women are at a higher risk. Also, the risk of blood clots increases with age. People over 60 years of age are more at risk. Hormone-based medications, obesity, and smoking are also risk factors for developing blood clots.  

Deep vein thrombosis

The symptoms of blood clots vary depending on their location. One can either experience deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. 

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) happens when clots are in the deep veins in the legs. It can cause swelling and pain in the affected area. Pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a clot travels to the lungs. It can cause chest pain, difficulty breathing, coughing (possibly with blood), and a rapid heart rate.

Clots can block blood flow, which can lead to damage to the body’s organs. Clots that travel to the brain can cause strokes, while the ones that travel to the heart can lead to a heart attack. 

The Role of Compression Stockings

The Role of Compression Stockings

Compression stockings are designed to help push blood upwards against gravity. This improves the process of blood flowing back to the heart.

The mechanics of compression stockings are based on the principle of controlled pressure. By compressing the surface veins, arteries, and muscles, the circulating blood is forced through narrower channels. As a result, the arterial pressure increases, which causes more blood to return to the heart and less blood to pool in the feet.

Compression socks serve multiple purposes in the medical field. They are commonly used to prevent and manage venous disorders such as varicose veins, spider veins, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Compression stockings also come in handy after surgery, particularly on the lower legs. They help in reducing the risk of clot formation. Wearing compression socks also helps people who experience leg swelling from prolonged periods of standing or sitting. The compression stockings help to reduce swelling.

For those with conditions like orthostatic hypotension, which causes dizziness upon standing, wearing compression stockings can help stabilize blood pressure. Wearing compression socks also aids in managing conditions like lymphedema.

Different Types And Levels Of Compression in Stockings

Different Types And Levels Of Compression in Stockings

Compression stockings come in various types and levels of compression. They are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) to cater to different needs. 

Light Compression  (15-20 mmHg) is ideal for relieving tired, aching legs and mild swelling. This type of compression stocking is often used by people who stand or sit for long periods.

Moderate Compression (20-30 mmHg) is used to treat moderate swelling and varicose veins. These compression socks particularly come in handy during pregnancy and post-surgical applications.

Firm Compression (30-40 mmHg) is prescribed for more severe venous diseases like severe varicose veins and moderate lymphedema. These compression stockings prevent the recurrence of venous ulcerations.

Extra Firm Compression (40-50 mmHg) is used for severe cases of lymphedema and deep vein thrombosis.

In terms of types, we have the knee-high, thigh-high, and pantyhose styles. Each of these compression stockings serves different coverage needs. 

The choice of compression level and type largely depends on the medical condition being treated and the recommendation of a healthcare professional like CACVI.

Reach out to us now to book a consultation!

The Myth and Reality

Can compression stockings dislodge a clot?

The question of whether compression stockings can dislodge a blood clot is a prevalent concern. The myth suggests that the pressure applied by these stockings could potentially break loose a clot, allowing it to travel to other parts of the body, which could lead to serious complications. However, this concern does not align with the reality of how compression stockings work and their intended use in medical practice.

The pressure exerted by compression stockings is designed to improve blood flow and prevent new clots. It is generally not forceful enough to dislodge an existing, adhered blood clot. The primary function of these stockings is preventative, rather than being a treatment for existing clots.

While compression stockings are safe for most people, certain safety guidelines should be followed, especially when there is an existing clot. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider before using compression stockings, particularly for individuals with known blood clots or a history of clotting disorders.

Incorrect sizing or improper application of compression socks can lead to complications. A healthcare professional can provide guidance on the correct size and compression level.

Compression socks should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. For those with existing clots, other medical treatments like anticoagulant therapy are often necessary.

Regular follow-up with a healthcare provider is important to monitor the condition and adjust treatment as needed. At CACVI, we are experts at vascular treatments and have expert hands. We also offer personalized treatment options. Book an appointment with us now!

Alternative Treatments and Precautions

While compression stockings are an effective preventive measure against blood clots, they are often part of a broader treatment plan. Anticoagulant medications are alternative treatments for blood clots. They are used in treating existing clots and preventing new ones. 

There is also thrombolytic therapy which is used in severe cases. This treatment is in cases like PE when a clot is life-threatening. Thrombolytic drugs are used to dissolve clots quickly.

In some patients who can’t take anticoagulants, a filter may be placed in the vena cava (the body’s largest vein) to prevent clots from traveling from the legs to the lungs. These are called Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filters. 

Compression devices are also used for patients unable to wear compression socks. It helps to enhance circulation in the legs.

Peripheral artery disease

There are certain conditions where wearing compression stockings should be avoided or used with caution. In patients with severe peripheral artery disease, these stockings might worsen the condition. 

Individuals who cannot feel their legs properly may not notice if the stockings are too tight. This can lead to skin irritation or skin damage.

Proper diagnosis of the condition is essential to determine the most effective treatment plan. Every individual’s health condition is unique, and we can tailor treatments, including the type and extent of compression, to individual needs.

Is it Safe for you to Wear Compression Stockings?

Compression stockings are designed to apply graduated pressure to the legs. They enhance blood flow and reduce the risk of clot formation. They are used for preventing venous disorders, aiding post-surgical recovery, and managing swelling and certain chronic conditions.

Their ability to improve circulation and prevent stasis makes them an essential tool. However, it is crucial to understand that while they are effective in preventing clots, they are not a stand-alone treatment for existing clots. The use of compression stockings should always be part of a comprehensive approach to blood clot management.

If you are at risk of blood clots, have a history of venous issues, or are considering using compression stockings for any related condition, it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider. They can provide personalized advice, proper sizing, and guidance on safe usage.

At CACVI, we offer expertise on the safe use of compression stockings, especially in complex cases with existing health concerns. Book an appointment with us now!


If you were told you need an amputation, get a second opinion! We are board certified consultants in endovascular interventions committed to improving the quality of your life and the lives of those you love!

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