“Will I Be Wearing Compression Stockings After Heart Surgery In The Intensive Care Unit?” Asks Dave

I just received a question from Dave about the use of compression stockings after heart surgery.

Dave writes, “Adam – The time is here. I’m going in for mitral valve repair (not replacement I hope) due to severe mitral regurgitation and an enlarged heart. Yesterday, I was at a barbecue when a friend told me that I should expect to be in annoying compression stockings after heart surgery – when I wake up in the intensive care unit (ICU). Is that true? Thanks, Dave”

Compression Stockings After Heart Surgery

While I can not speak for all patients, I can assure Dave that when I woke up in the intensive care unit, I was wearing compression stockings after my heart valve surgery. Like the ventilator tube, this was not expected.

However, I didn’t find the stockings to be annoying or irritating. After the surgery, I was thrilled to be alive. That said, I was pretty accepting of all the medical gizmos that were either on me or surrounding me. I would later learn that these stockings are medically referred to as compression stockings.  According to St. Vincent’s Private Hospital, compression stockings after heart surgery are actually worn by their patients throughout the hospital stay:

“Compression stockings after heart surgery help control the swelling in your legs, improve circulation and decrease the risk of clot formation. If you have coronary artery bypass surgery with a graft taken from your leg, the stockings are worn day and night for four weeks. – St. Vincent’s Hospital”

I hope this helps Dave (and perhaps you) manage your expectations specific to the use of compression stockings after heart surgery.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • Pat

    My husband had an aortic valve replaced and mitral valva repaired. He was not wearing stockings after surgery and never required to do so.

  • Cynthia

    My husband had his mitral valve repaired at Kaiser Sunset in Southern California almost one year ago and he never wore compression stockings as a part of his recovery.

  • Hi Pat & Cynthia,

    Thanks for sharing your husbands experiences. This is very interesting to learn of the different approaches following cardiac surgery.

    Anybody else want to chime in?

    Keep on tickin!

  • MJ Samer

    I had tricuspid valve replacement surgery and did have to wear the compression stockings after surgery, but like Adam, did not find them to be annoying either. I was also glad to be alive and with all the tubes, etc., to deal with, I’d say the stockings are the least of your worries.

  • Leslie Lafayette

    Hey Adam, how are you doing? Always enjoy getting your e mail. Boy, all I can say is that Dave’s friend is focusing on something pretty minute. ?? Believe me Dave, if your surgical stockings are the thing that annoy you the most you will have had a great time in the hospital! The stockings are fine and they certainly didn’t bother me. I had them for another surgery some years ago and wondered what they were, had them on all night after surgery. They make sure your blood is circulating! I had them on for about 3 days in the hospital after open heart mitral valve repair surgery but I was more aware of the IVs, the constant barrage of people in and out to take tests and blood, the lousy TV set (LOL) the noise in the hall, the blood transfusions (2) and the heparin due to going into atrial fib (which resolved itself in a day). Surgical stockings? Not a big deal, Dave!! Good luck and know you are going to do great!

  • I had mitral valve surgery 6 months ago and in the ICU woke up with those band type things that were programmed to squeeze my lower legs every so often. No-one saw them- but they were definitely not so feminine. They did not bother me at all- and I slept with them on just fine (I am a light light sleeper usually). I did not wear anything on my legs after I went to the regular cardiac ward.
    Even if you have stockings on- you won’t care. Evey time I asked a question about how I would look, what clothes ,shampoo, etc- the answer I got from a friend who had been through it was “You won’t care!” And I found that to be true.
    Good luck- think about how to help your family not to worry so much…be open, allow the miracle of being healed happen – Meigs

  • Patricia Shabel

    I had mitral valve repair in December 2009, and I did not have to wear stockings. Right after the surgery, my biggest concerns were not sneezing (it hurts like hell after having your lung shut down), sucking on that little plastic thing with 3 balls and trying to get all of the balls high up in the tube (also uncomfortable), and walking as much as they wanted me to right after my surgery and dealing with being really, really tired from it.

    Overall, the surgery went very well and being in the hospital was the easy part. The recovery since then and not being at 100% yet has been the hard part.

  • john gallagher

    Dave and Adam: I can handle the stockings. I have the same conditions plus atrial fibrillation and hoping for mitral valve repair and possibly “maze” procedure. Am I a candidate for MICS or am I looking at full Sternum split?? Thanks.

  • Duane Hunt

    I had a mitral valve repair in January 2010 at Florida Hospital Orlando. During my early recovery, I had the compression stockings on sometimes. But I learned that my surgeon, Dr. Accola, was not a big fan of them. And since I was immediately very ambulatory (I walked the corridors for miles, literally), I was not forced to wear them. It really wasn’t that big a deal, but if you want to avoid the stockings, you’ll increase your chances by walking, walking, walking.

  • joy

    I\’ve decided to take a little break from the compression stockings? during my hospital stay they didn\’t tell me to take them off on day so i wore them 24hrs. now, since i\’m not walking anywhere i took a day? what does anyone think?

  • Judy Gordon

    I have now nor did I ever have any problem with any treatments after my Mitral Valve Replacement at St Vincent’s Private in September 2014. The toughest procedure post surgery was a Pleural Puncture to remove fluid from one of my lungs. The sta
    ff helped me in any way they could. I knew I was there for life saving surgery, so I didn’t expect it to be a ‘walk in the park”. My operation was a success and after a Cardioversion and a cardiac Ablation all is going well. I am currently wearing compression stockings to alleviate fluid retention. Going well so far.

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