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Phlebology. 2009;24 Suppl 1:13-33. doi: 10.1258/phleb.2009.09s003.

A systematic review of compression hosiery for uncomplicated varicose veins.

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Sheffield Vascular Institute, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.



Compression hosiery is widely used in the prevention and management of symptoms related to varicose veins. However, there are still gaps and questions in relation to its benefit. This review seeks to examine the current evidence regarding the effectiveness of compression hosiery in the treatment of varicose veins.


Prospective, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating compression hosiery in the treatment of varicose veins were sought. Where RCTs were unavailable other evidence was included. Studies were included if they evaluated the application of compression to patients with a diagnosis of varicose veins. Twelve electronic bibliographic databases and 18 internet-based research resources were searched. Inclusion or exclusion of trials was decided by two reviewers acting independently.


The search strategy identified 25 studies. Eleven were RCTs or systematic reviews, 12 non-randomized studies and two guidelines. No consensus was found regarding the class of compression needed for the effective management of varicose veins. Wearing compression improved symptom management, but could be confounded by the exclusion of high number of non-compliant patients within the trials. Wearing compression to slow the progression, or prevent the reoccurrence of varicose veins could not be supported by the current published evidence.


The evidence for the benefit of compression hosiery for varicose veins was equivocal. The published literature was often contradictory and had methodological flaws.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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