Compression Pantyhose – The Ultimate Guide (with Pictures!)

What is a Compression Pantyhose?

Graphics of variations of compression wear including compression pantyhose
Variations of compression wear

A compression pantyhose is a medical hosiery specially designed to assist blood circulation and are commonly used to treat and prevent health issues in the legs, such as varicose veins.

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These are stretchy stockings that gently place pressure on the legs and provide back support when standing or sitting for a long period of time.

Compression level of graduated compression pantyhose graphic
Graduated compression

The most pressure is situated around the ankles and gradually decreases along the leg, with a pressure between 70%-90% of the maximum pressure around the calf then 25%-45% around the thigh.

Compression pantyhose can come in a variety of sizes, lengths, colors, and strengths of compression. Some offer moderate compression, like a shaping garment, while others offer breathing room for comfort.

In comparison, a normal pantyhose is a common accessory in women’s clothing, typically worn under skirts and dresses when a woman’s legs are seen for various style reasons, such as matching colors or creating the appearance of even skin tone.

What is a Compression Pantyhose made of?

Close up shot of skin color compression stocking

Compression pantyhose can be manufactured based on a combination of a variety of materials, such as nylon, cotton, spandex, and natural rubber, each with a different level of thickness, elasticity, softness and appearance.

Many modern hosiery are made of microfibers, which creates a sheer material that allows the skin to breathe and wick sweat away.  Due to various materials being used, it is important to check the material composition before purchasing a pair to avoid potential allergic reactions.

How do Compression Pantyhose Benefit Health?

Working and being active can require standing, walking or sitting frequently and for a period of time, which may cause tired legs and muscle fatigue. Swelling and aches can also occur due to prolonged standing. These tend to happen because of poor circulation in the legs.

Diagram explainig calf muscles moving blood upwards

Wearing compression pantyhose ensures you are getting the benefits of compression and improved circulation throughout the entire leg, which is important if you are recovering from surgery or have limited mobility. They are beneficial to wear for people prone to varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis, which you read more about below:

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1. Prevents and Treats Diseases Caused by Poor Blood Circulation in the Lower Extremities

Edema

Graphic of edema

Edema is the medical term for swelling. This happens when small blood vessels leak fluid into nearby tissues, causing inflammation or swelling. Areas prone to edema are the ankles and legs, which can occur due to long hours of standing and sitting, medications, pregnancy, infections, or other medical problems.

Lymphadema

Graphic of Lymphedema

Lymphedema, also known as lymphatic obstruction, is a long-term condition where excess fluid collects in tissues causing swelling (edema). The lymphatic system is a part of the immune system and vital for immune function. Fluid called lymph circulates within the lymphatic system.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Graphic explaining Venous Reflux Disease

Chronic Venous Insufficiency is a condition that occurs when the venous wall and/or valves in the leg veins are not working effectively, making it difficult for blood to return to the heart from the legs.

Varicose Veins

Graphic explaining varicose veins

Varicose veins are swollen and twisted veins caused by blood stasis and weak vessel walls. They might appear as clusters of blue or purple veins visible underneath the skin and are sometimes surrounded by thin red capillaries known as spider veins. Although varicose veins can occur in various parts of the body, it occurs most often in the lower extremities.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Graphic of Deep vein thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body. Most deep vein clots occur in the lower leg or thigh. A deep vein thrombosis can break loose and cause a serious problem in the lung, called a pulmonary embolism.

Phlebitis

Graphic of Phlebitis and Thrombophlebitis

Phlebitis means inflammation of a vein. Thrombophlebitis is due to one or more blood clots in a vein that causes inflammation. Thrombophlebitis usually occurs in leg veins, but it may occur in an arm. The thrombus in the vein causes pain and irritation and may block blood flow in the veins.

2. Provides Support and Comfort for Daily Activities

Compression pantyhose are suitable for office lady, nurse, doctor, pregnant woman, flight attendant

Compression pantyhose are great substitutes for ordinary pantyhose for people that are overweight, pregnant, or have diseases associated with poor blood circulation on the lower limbs as mentioned above.

They may be especially helpful for people who find their feet swelling at the end of a long workday, like teachers, waiters, nurses, flight attendants, and so on. These help muscles recover faster and feel re-energized.

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Understanding the Right Compression Level

Graphics of doctors and nurses

Before purchasing compression pantyhose, it is essential to understand the right compression level as a level too high could cause discomfort, tightness, difficulty breathing, and restricted circulation, whereas a level too low will not provide enough pressure for effective results.

All compression garments, including pantyhose, are divided into different classifications with varying degrees of compression, each addressing different health problems. Compression levels are indicated with a range of numbers such as ’20-30 mmHg’, which means that the amount of compression will not fall below 20 mmHg and not exceed 30 mmHg. The unit of measurement is mmHg, read as ‘millimeters of mercury’, which is a measurement of pressure also used in blood pressure.

It is highly recommended to consult with a doctor to understand which compression level is best for you or for the person you are purchasing compression pantyhose for.

Class 1 – (15-20 mmHg)

This level is recommended for beginners.

This light compression level is suitable for everyday wear to help with mild swelling and fatigued legs due to long periods of standing, sitting and traveling. It is a popular choice for office workers, flight attendants, teachers, and travelers.

  • Helps relieve tired, aching legs, and minor swelling of feet, ankles, and legs.
  • Ideal compression level used for those traveling long distances.
  • Prevents and relieves minor to moderate cases of varicose veins.
  • Prevents deep vein thrombosis.

Class 2 – (20-30 mmHg)

The is the first medical-grade compression level.

This is the most widely used medical-grade because it provides competent compression to your legs without being too strong. This level is suitable for individuals suffering from varicose veins, patients recovering from venous surgery, and pregnant women.

  • Prevents and relieves moderate to severe cases of varicose veins.
  • For post-surgical and post sclerotherapy treatment to help prevent the reappearance of varicose veins and spider veins.
  • Helps in the treatment of moderate to severe edema or lymphatic edema.
  • Helps with the management of active ulcers and manifestations of Post-Thrombotic Syndromes.
  • Relieves superficial thrombophlebitis.
  • Prevents Orthostatic Hypotension or Postural Hypotension.
  • Prevents deep vein thrombosis.

Class 3 – (30-40 mmHg)

This is a stronger medical grade class II that is recommended for moderate to severe leg health symptoms. It is great for patients with lymphedema, severe varicose veins, venous reflux disease, and deep vein thrombosis.

  • Prevents and relieves severe varicose veins.
  • Used in post-surgical and post-sclerotherapy treatment to help prevent the reappearance of varicose veins and spider veins.
  • Used in the treatment of severe edema and lymphedema.
  • Helps reduce the symptoms of Orthostatic Hypotension or Post-Thrombotic Syndrome.
  • Helps in the management of venous ulcers and manifestations of Post-Thrombotic Syndrome.
  • Prevents deep vein thrombosis.

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Class 4 – (40-50 mmHg)

This is the strongest compression level and is not for ordinary use. Wearing compression garments, including pantyhose, must be under the prescription and supervision of a doctor. This level of compression is generally indicated for severe venous stasis, wound management, and lymphedema.

  • Treats acute leg and ankle swelling.
  • Prevents and relieves varicose veins, chronic vein insufficiency, and deep vein thrombosis.

How to Choose the Right Compression Pantyhose

1. Take Proper Measurements

Proper sizing guide of compression pantyhose

It is recommended that you take proper measurements of the waist and legs to understand which size of compression pantyhose would fit best. This can be done by measuring the widest part of your thighs and leg length starting from the floor to the bottom of your buttocks.

2. Read User Reviews and Purchase from Appropriate Channels

Before purchasing a compression pantyhose, research on available channels to purchase from, such as online or in-store. It would be safer to purchase from sellers that are well known for their compression garments and have received positive reviews on their products. For instance, an online user review with an average of 3 and a half stars, out of five, may indicate that the product is of standard quality.

How to Maintain a Compression Pantyhose

Washing black color compression pantyhose

It is highly important to wash a compression pantyhose after each wear to remove dirt, dead skin cells and bacteria and prevent skin irritations and discomfort from odor. Compression pantyhose can either be washed with soap or a mild detergent in a sink then air dried or put in a washing machine at a gentle cycle then hung to dry. It is also common to replace compression pantyhose every five or six months or once they begin losing their elasticity.

Conclusion

Wearing skin color compression pantyhose

Compression pantyhose are both functional and fashionable. Consulting with a doctor and taking proper measurements is recommended to understand which compression level is appropriate for you before purchasing one. Ensure that when you do make a purchase that it is through a reliable seller, such as ComproGear.

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