DVT treatments Anticoagulants (blood thinners) This type of medication makes it harder for your blood to clot. Anticoagulants also stop clots from getting bigger and prevent blood clots from moving. Anticoagulants don’t destroy or “melt” blood clots. Your body may naturally dissolve a clot, but sometimes clots don’t completely disappear. When they don’t, they usually shrink and become little “scars” inside your veins. Sometimes these “old” clots may result in leg swelling, but oftentimes they don’t cause symptoms. There are different types of anticoagulants: warfarin, heparin and oral Xa inhibitors. Your doctor will talk to you about the best type of medication for you. If you need to take an anticoagulant, you may have to take it for only a few months (usually three to six months) or you might take it indefinitely. Your treatment time may be different depending on the specific situations of each individual, including if: You’ve had clots before. You’re getting treatment for another illness, like cancer or an autoimmune disease (you may need to take an anticoagulant as long as your risk of a clot is higher.). Bleeding is the most common side effect of anticoagulants. You should call your doctor right away if you notice that you bruise or bleed easily while taking this medication. Compression Stockings You‘ll probably need to wear graded elastic compression stockings to either improve or completely get rid of leg swelling. Damage to the small valves inside your veins often causes this swelling. You may also have swelling because the DVT is blocking blood flow in your vein. You wear most compression stockings just below your knee. These stockings are tight at the ankle and become looser as they go away from your ankle. This causes gentle pressure (compression) on your leg. Some people need to wear these for two years or more. Several clinical studies have shown that compression stockings improve the symptoms of leg pain and swelling by at least 50% as long as they’re worn daily from morning to evening (they don’t have to be worn overnight). After surgery, your providers may put compression devices on your calves to put pressure on them. These machines squeeze and release the fabric-covered devices around your calves while you’re lying in bed. These devices help prevent a DVT if you’re in the hospital, but they aren’t prescribed outside of the hospital. In addition, unlike compression stockings that you can wear safely when a leg DVT is present, you shouldn’t use these devices for DVT prevention if you have a DVT. DVT Treatment Procedures When you can’t take medications to thin your blood or you have blood clots while taking blood thinners without missing doses, a surgeon may have to do a procedure to put in an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter. The procedure is done under local anesthesia. Your surgeon inserts the IVC filter through a catheter into a large vein in your groin or neck, and then into your vena cava (the largest vein in your body). If blood clots in the veins of your legs break off and travel, the IVC filter is designed to prevent large blood clots (emboli) from reaching your lungs and causing a pulmonary embolism. While an IVC filter helps prevent a pulmonary embolism, it doesn’t keep more blood clots from forming in your veins.