Phlebologie 2013; 42(06): 301-307
DOI: 10.12687/phleb2165-6-2013
Schattauer GmbH

Compression therapy during pregnancy: boon or bane?

Article in several languages: deutsch | English
A. Adamczyk
1   Universitäts-Hautklinik Tübingen, Germany
M. Krug
1   Universitäts-Hautklinik Tübingen, Germany
S. Schnabl
1   Universitäts-Hautklinik Tübingen, Germany
H.-M. Häfner
1   Universitäts-Hautklinik Tübingen, Germany
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Eingereicht: 07 August 2013

Angenommen: 09 August 2013

Publication Date:
04 January 2018 (online)


Background: During pregnancy, various factors cause the development of peripheral oedema in the lower limb. In addition, pregnancy is a risk factor for the development of varicose veins and thromboembolic events. Prophylactic provision of pregnant women with compression hosiery is often only performed in risk situations, but not as standard treatment. The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of an optimally adjusted compression therapy with regard to the reduction in oedema and subjective symptoms during pregnancy.

Patients and methods: In a randomised, prospective study, 21 pregnant women (33.4 years of age [SD 4.4 years]) in the clinical stages C0 (3), C1 (11), C2 (6) and C3 (1) were investigated. 13 women were supplied with a compression pantyhose, 8 women had no compression. At 4-weekly intervals, the patients’ leg circumference and leg volume were measured using water plethysmography and non-contact Image 3D. In parallel to this, the women’s quality of life and subjective symptoms were evaluated using patient questionnaires. Digital photoplethysmography, Doppler and duplex ultrasound examination of the leg veins were conducted at the beginning of the study, shortly before delivery and 3 months postpartum.

Results: In both groups, a growing leg volume increase occurred linear with the increase in body weight during the pregnancy. However, water plethysmography showed a much smaller increase in lower leg volume in the patient group with compression hosiery (p<0.05). At the beginning of the study, the quality of life and the subjective symptoms had been rated as worse in the group with compression hosiery than in the group without it. During the course of pregnancy, however, an improvement occurred rather than any exacerbation. The negative characteristics of wearing the compression hosiery were rated as negligible, which was reflected in the high compliance with regard to the length of time the hosiery was worn.

Conclusion: Compression therapy in pregnant women is well tolerated and counteracts the pregnancy-induced increase in lower leg volume and should therefore be included in the general health care recommendation for pregnant women.

English version available at:

  • Literatur

  • 1 Cooke E, Benko T, OConell B. The effect of graduated compression stockings on lower limb venous haemodynamics. Phlebology 1996; 11: 141-145.
  • 2 Benko T, Kalik I, Chetty M. The physiologic effect of graded compression stockings on blood flow in the lower limb: An assessment with colour Doppler ultrasound. Phlebology 1999; 14: 17-20.
  • 3 Häfner HM, Eichner M, Junger M. Medical compression therapy. Zentralbl Chir 2001; 126: 551-556.
  • 4 Gaylarde PM, Sarkany I, Dodd HJ. The effect of compression on venous stasis. Br J Dermatol 1993; 128: 255-258.
  • 5 Parmley T, O’Brien TJ. Skin changes during pregnancy. Clin Obstet Gynecol 1990; 33 (04) 713-717.
  • 6 Bromen K, Pannier-Fischer F, Stang A, Rabe E, Bock E, Jockel KH. [Should sex specific differences in venous diseases be explained by pregnancies and hormone intake?]. Gesundheitswesen 2004; 66 (03) 170-174.
  • 7 Marshall M, Schwahn-Schreiber C. Schwangerschaft und Varikose – häufig und wichtig, aber stiefmütterlich behandelt. Vasomed 2006; 18: 101-105.
  • 8 Sohn C, Stolz W, von Fournier D, Bastert G. [The effect of pregnancy and parity on the venous system of the leg]. Zentralbl Gynakol 1991; 113 (14) 829-839.
  • 9 Heit JA, Kobbervig CE, James AH, Petterson TM, Bailey KR, Melton III LJ. Trends in the incidence of venous thromboembolism during pregnancy or postpartum: a 30-year population-based study. Ann Intern Med 2005; 143 (10) 697-706.
  • 10 James AH, Jamison MG, Brancazio LR, Myers ER. Venous thromboembolism during pregnancy and the postpartum period: incidence, risk factors, and mortality. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2006; 194 (05) 1311-1315.
  • 11 Schmidt-Matthiesen H, Wallwiener D. Gynäkologie und Geburtshilfe. Lehrbuch für Studium und Praxis. Stuttgart, New York: Schattauer; 2005
  • 12 Seelbach-Göbel B, Wulf K. Untersuchungen während einer Schwangerschaft, Risikoschwangerschaft. In: Bender et al. ed. Klinik der Frauenheilkunde und Geburtshilfe, 4. ed. München: Urban und Fischer; 2002
  • 13 Büchtemann AS, Steins A, Vokert B, Hahn M, Klyscz T, Jünger M. The effekt of compression therapy on venous haemodynamics in pregnant women. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1999; 106 (06) 563-9.
  • 14 Thaler E, Huch R, Huch A, Zimmermann R. Compression stockings prophylaxis of emergent varicose veins in pregnancy: a prospective randomised controlled study. Swiss Med Wkly 2001; 131: 659-662.
  • 15 Kahle B, Schulze-Dirks A, Petzoldt D. [Importance of duplex ultrasound in diagnosis of venous diseases]. Hautarzt 1993; 44: 275-280.
  • 16 Jünger M, Hahn U, Bort S, Klyscz T, Hahn M, Rassner G. [Significance of cutaneous microangiopathy for the pathogenesis of dermatitis in venous congestion due to chronic venous insufficiency]. Wien. MedWochenschr 1994; 144: 206-210.
  • 17 Jünger M, Sippel K. Compression therapy in chronic venous insufficiency. New test procedures and therapeutic options. Hautarzt 2003; 54: 1045-1052.
  • 18 Kauder S, Strölin A, Adamczyk A, Krug M, Häfner HM. „Image 3D“ zur Unterschenkelvolumenbestimmung im Vergleich mit der Wasserplethysmographie. Phlebologie 2011; 40: 337-342.