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Your Healthy Family: Why compression socks are a travel must-have

Compression socks protect the health of your veins
Posted at 8:41 AM, Nov 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-16 08:41:30-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — If you're traveling for the upcoming holidays — whether on the road or in the air — one Cape Coral doctor says compression socks are a travel must-have to protect the health of your veins.

Many athletes wear compression socks on the field.

"It makes it so that the blood doesn't sit in the skin, it gets back to the heart, it gets another load of oxygen and sugar, and goes back out to your tissues. So that football player, that hockey player, that baseball player is a better, more efficient machine,” Dr. Joseph Cipriano of Lumiere Cosmetic Vein Center in Cape Coral said.

He said even if you aren't trying to win a big game or compete at optimal levels, compression socks can benefit anyone, especially when you're traveling.

“We're trying to optimize that circuit. We're trying to make it so that blood gets back to your heart more efficiently," Dr. Cipriano said.

He said when we travel — whether by plane, train, or car — we sit still.

“Our muscles are not pumping, helping move the blood out of our legs," Dr. Cipriano said.

He said the pressure on your body from a pressurized cabin of a plane impacts your vessels and blood return from your legs.

"I don't know anybody that's flown for more than four hours and not gotten off a plane and seen swelling around their ankles. That's blood pushed in the wrong direction. That's pressure in the wrong way," he said.

Next time you get on a plane, Dr. Cipriano said to pay attention to the ankles of pilots and flight attendants; they're wearing compression socks. That's because the extended time in the pressurized cabin can cause venous insufficiency, or difficulty returning blood back to your heart from your legs.

"They're going to be subject to insufficiency and it's after effects: varicose veins, spider veins and ultimately can be wound care issues for their legs," he said. "We incur the damage now. We pay the piper come age 50-through-80. That's when we actually start to see the disease results."

Dr. Cipriano said anyone over the age of 12 who is subject to potential problems with blood return should wear compression socks when traveling.

"I’ll even extend this younger as we have more obesity that is plaguing our youth," he said. "But, I say that this needs to be endorsed or embraced by everyone. Everyone should be wearing knee high compressions given those circumstances to help prevent progression of venous insufficiency, because all of us can be subject to it.”

In addition to compression socks, he said make sure to drink plenty of water.

"Think of your blood like oil; the better hydrated you are, the thinner the viscosity of the oil. The more dehydrated you are, the thicker the viscosity of the oil. So as you stay hydrated, your blood will work and operate better," he said.

He also recommends taking a baby Aspirin because it will make your blood more nimble and mobile. He said if you're traveling for more than two hours, make sure to get up and moving multiple times.

"It's not healthy to have your legs below your pelvis for a prolonged situation. It does not help your blood get back to your heart," Dr. Cipriano said. "We're creatures of movement. We're not creatures of sitting still, we're not rocks. We're meant to be mobile. Movement is life.”

Dr. Cipriano said many patients don't like wearing compression socks because they feel too tight. That's why it's important they're properly sized and measured for you.