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Plus Size Compression Socks – Complete Guide (with Pictures!)

wide calf compression socks
Extra wide knee highs support hosiery that are helpful for walking, weight management, and swelling

Plus size compression socks are made to suit the needs of individuals who have problems getting the perfect fit for their legs. A lot of people underestimate the effectiveness and benefits of support socks. This could be either due to ignorance or misuse of the tubes. It does not matter whether the support socks are knee length, thigh length, or pantyhose, there are extended sizing that will fit you comfortably. If you are new to thigh or knee highs support hosiery and at a loss as to what these tubes are meant for, this complete guide will tell you all there is to know.

What Are Compression Hosiery?

a nurse wearing essential wide knee highs support hosiery for walking and weight management
a man wearing wide calf knee highs support hosiery for walking, weight and diabetic management

Basically, medical socks are hosiery specially designed for people in need of compression therapy. They come in different dimensions, colors, lengths, and compression levels. These specially-made hosiery are snug-fitting and stretchy to squeeze your leg gently. Support grade socks work by applying moderate pressure to your legs and your ankles, allowing your blood vessels to work better. Consequently, the arteries responsible for taking blood rich in oxygen to your muscles will relax to allow free flow of blood. This will help to promote the flow of blood from your legs back to your heart. However, one size does not always fit all. If your legs and thighs are wide than most, it can be quite challenging to find a proper fit. When you find the right one, it will provide soothing support sorted range of wide calf support hosiery.

View full details of knee highs support hosiery for walking, weight, and diabetic management

Features of High-Quality Support Hosiery

View full features of knee highs support hosiery
benefits of thigh and knee highs support hosiery, including weight management, swelling reduction, and walking
  • Non-binding top band
  • Roomy toe box
  • Gradient compression
  • Reinforced heel pocket
  • Additional cushioning in high pressure areas

Why Wear These Support Hosiery?

  • Minimize the risk of blood clots
  • Reduce foot swelling
  • Improve venous disease symptoms
  • Help boost athletic performance

What Conditions Do They Treat

  • Valve failure
  • Varicose veins
  • Venous stasis
  • Ulcerations
  • Blood clots
  • Edema

Five Types of Compression Socks You Should Consider

Support socks are of different types and are available without prescription. Some of the major types include:

  • Knee Highs Support Hosiery
wide calf knee highs plus size support hosiery
  • Thigh Highs Support Hosiery
wide thigh highs plus size support hosiery
  • Pantyhose Support Hosiery
wide plus size compression pantyhose that are helpful for walking, swelling reduction, and weight management
  • Maternity Pantyhose Support Hosiery
wide plus size maternity pantyhose that are helpful for walking, reducing swelling, and weight management
  • Waist Attachment Support Hosiery

What are the Main Benefits of Compression Socks?

Basically, wide calf support hosiery offer the same benefits as other support hosiery, but for larger legs or calves. They work by applying pressure to both the legs and ankles. This may help to increase the volume and the velocity of blood that flows back to the heart by reducing the diameter of the major veins. Also, these support hosiery may prevent downward reflux of blood to the foot or into superficial veins.

Here are some benefits of using wide support hosiery:

Prevention of Edema or Swelling

prevention of edema or swelling legs
wide knee highs support hosiery for swelling, weight management, arthritis, and diabetic patients

When tissues swell, it could be as a result of fluids stored around cells in the body. Some parts of the body like the feet, ankles, and calves are likely to swell very easily. Using knee high support socks will help to improve circulation and relieve symptoms of too much sodium intake. Also, the material helps to remove fluid that was retained in the area thereby offering quick relief.

Main Benefits:

  • Improve circulation
  • Relieve symptoms

Temperature Control

Some people wear support socks in cold weather just to keep their feet or legs warm. By increasing blood circulation in the leg, more warmth will be generated. This benefit favors athletes and people in extremely cold areas.

Main Benefits:

  • Increase circulation
  • Boost performance for runners
treatment of varicose veins

Treatment of Varicose Veins

veins with large size thigh or knee highs compression stockings

Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins (usually the veins in the legs) start having problems. When this happens, blood circulates back to the veins which will result in pain and inflammation in the area. This makes the veins appear gray or green and may enlarge until they expand outwards. By wearing thigh or knee highs support hosiery, you will be placing these veins back in their right position. Then there will be improvement in the way blood circulates in the area.

Main Benefits:

  • Regular venous return
  • No blood pooling

Prevention of Fatigue

anti-fatigue knee highs support hosiery

People who easily feel pain and fatigue when standing, walking, or running will feel relieved when using support leg-wear. Athletes are more likely to last longer and enjoy enhanced performance when wearing large support leg wear.

Main Benefits:

  • Boost circulation
  • Relaxes leg muscles
medical hoses boost circulation

Psychological Effects

Although support socks are not proven to offer any benefit to athletes, most athletes believe they do. The theory behind this is that, while doing their activity, blood needs to flow freely so that more oxygen can get to their muscles. Later, the oxygenated blood and lymph circulation will boost muscle recovery to avoid too much soreness and cramping. Many runners, triathletes, and basketball players believe this theory. By feeling or believing this, they tend to perform better in races and other activities.

Sports men and women believe these support hosiery:

medical hoses improve running performance
  • Increase oxygen delivery
  • Decrease lactic acid
  • Prevent cramping
  • Minimize muscle fatigue

Benefits for Pregnant Women

medical hoses help support a healthy pregnant

Many pregnant women tend to retain more fluid and add weight. Wide thigh or knee highs support hosiery help to boost blood circulation and prevent fluid retention. This will it easier for pregnant women to walk and work. Also, the knee highs support socks can help to relieve or prevent edema and swelling in the feet, ankles, and lower leg. There will also be relieve from the pain pregnant women usually feel in their knees and legs.

medical hoses help prevent swelling

Main Benefits:

  • Prevent swelling in the legs
  • Promote blood circulation
  • Reduce the risk of varicose veins

Other Benefits

Some of the other benefits of using support socks include:

  • They boost blood circulation in the legs
  • Vein support
  • Prevention of venous ulcers
  • Prevention of blood pooling and clotting in leg veins
  • Reversion of venous hypertension
  • Improved lymphatic drainage

What Makes a Good Quality Pair of Socks?

features of a good quality pair

Your preferred wide thigh or knee highs support hosiery should possess certain properties. Some basic properties of high-grade large calf support hoses are:

  • They should be made of soft, resilient, and durable material
  • They should be clinically proven to be give precise compression
  • The hoses should be easy to apply
  • They should feel snug, but not uncomfortably tight
  • Additionally, it should be safe to machine wash as well as tumble dry

Who Should Use these Stockings?

Compression technology is needed by people who have problems with blood circulation, diseases in their venous system, as well as phlebitis when on airplanes. Here are some people who need large support leg wear:

manage diabetes with medical hoses
medical socks improves running performance
  • People with wide fit
  • Men and women who are big and tall
  • Individuals who need to reduce pains, swelling, and soreness in their legs
  • Athletes
  • Diabetic patients
  • Pregnant women

Conditions or Symptoms that Benefit from the Use of Compression Stockings

People use support hoses for different reasons. While some people use them as a preventive measure to keep their legs healthy when staying in one position for too long, other people use them because they have certain conditions or symptoms.

Here are some prevalent conditions or symptoms that could benefit from the use of thigh or knee highs support socks:

use medical hoses to fight DVT
treat varicose veins with medical hoses
  • Varicose veins or spider veins
  • Pregnancy-related vein problems or swelling
  • Post-surgical and post-sclerotherapy treatment
  • Lymphedema or edema
  • Poor circulation from sitting or standing for too long
  • Pain, swelling, or blood clots in the lower part of the legs (also called Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT)

Factors to Consider before Buying

Many people stand to enjoy a lot of benefits by using thigh or knee highs support socks. However, before you shop for your large support socks, consider the following factors:

The Size

Large support leg garments are either designed for men or for women. To get your best and most comfortable fit, measure your legs in the morning instead of after being on your feet the entire day. At night, your legs may get swollen and the calf circumference tends to get bigger. Properly-sized compression socks are crucial to ensure effectiveness. Compression should reduce gradually from the highest compression, which is at the ankle’s smallest part, until the 70% pressure reduction just under the knee.

Compression Support Socks Size Chart

measuring chart

Do not use large support socks if you are sure they will be too large for your legs. Over-sized socks will not provide adequate compression for your legs.

Some examples of large sizes for support hosiery are:

  • 2XL
  • 3XL
  • Queen Size

The Quality and Durability of the Support Socks

choose high-quality medical hoses

When choosing your large size compression socks, one of the most crucial factors to consider is quality. High quality materials tend to be more durable than low quality materials. Do not sacrifice quality of the material and its workmanship for economical socks. Most times, what you get is what you pay for. Review companies that are known for making thigh and knee highs size compression hosiery for years. Read reviews on their knee highs support hosiery and budget accordingly. Make sure the knee highs support hosiery have the following features:

  • Comfortable top band
  • Padded at the calf and Achilles tendon
  • Shock absorbent toe and heel
  • Knitted top and side

Compression levels

Compression levels have to do with the amount of pressure that is applied to your legs by the compression socks. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and medically divided by grades. The compression gets higher as the numbers get larger to serve different purposes. By using the right grade, you will achieve fast results without causing more problems for yourself. These grades for support levels are:

  • Mild
mild pressure
  • Moderate
moderate pressure
  • Firm
firm pressure
  • Extra-firm
extra-firm pressure
  • Extra-extra firm
wide calf extra extra firm pressure

Mild compression: 8 – 15 mmHg

  • This helps to keep your legs healthy and energized.
  • Provides quick relief for legs that are tired and achy.
  • Also provides relief for minor swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet.
  • Prevents leg fatigue resulting from sitting or standing for long periods.
  • Helps in prevention of varicose veins and spider veins formation during pregnancy.

Moderate compression: 15 – 20 mmHg

  • Highly recommended for people using thigh or knee highs support socks for the first time.
  • Provides adequate compression for long distance travelers.
  • Prevents and relieves minor to moderate cases of varicose and spider veins.
  • Also helps to prevent formation of varicose veins and spider veins during pregnancy.
  • Provides support for tired and aching legs, while relieving minor swelling of legs, ankles, and feet.
  • Very effective in post-sclerotherapy treatment for preventing reoccurrence of varicose and spider veins.
  • Helps to prevent economy class syndrome, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Firm compression: 20 – 30 mmHg

  • Helps in preventing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), also called economy class syndrome
  • Very effective in relieving superficial thrombophlebitis
  • Helps in preventing and relieving moderate to severe levels of varicose veins (even during pregnancy)
  • Prevents orthostatic hypotension (rapid fall in blood pressure when a person is standing).
  • Used in treating moderate to severe lymphatic edema or edema
  • Helps to manage active ulcers and symptoms of post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS)
  • Great for post-sclerotherapy and post-surgical treatment to help in preventing recurrence of varicose veins and spider veins

Extra-firm compression: 30 – 40 mmHg

  • Helps to reduce symptoms of postural hypotension and orthostatic hypotension
  • Prevents economy class syndrome, called deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Very helpful in preventing and relieving severe varicose veins
  • Used in treating severe edema and lymphatic edema
  • Used in managing venous ulcers and symptoms of post-thrombotic syndrome (PTS)
  • Helps in preventing recurrence of varicose veins and spider veins during post-surgical and post-sclerotherapy treatment

Grade 3

Prescription level compression: 40 – 50 mmHg

  • Prescribed for venous diseases that are very serious
  • These venous diseases include acute swelling of the leg or ankle, chronic vein insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis, and varicose veins

How to Measure Large Size Hosiery

ideal fitting

To get the right size, use a measuring tape to measure the area around your ankle, known as your ankle’s circumference.

How to Measure Knee Highs Support Hosiery

calf measurement
ankle measurment
  • Measure around your ankle at the narrowest point
  • Measure around the widest part of your calf
  • Measure the length from the bend of the knee to the floor

Helpful Tips

  • Carry out the measurements in the morning
  • You can use a string and a ruler if you don’t have a tape measure
  • Be precise, don’t estimate

How to Measure Thigh High and Pantyhose

  • Measure around your ankle at the narrowest point
  • Measure around the widest part of your calf
  • Measure around your thigh three-finger widths down from the crease of your buttocks
  • Measure the length from the floor to the crease of your buttocks
knee length measurment
thigh measurement

Helpful Tips

  • Carry out the measurements in the morning
  • You can alternatively use a string and a ruler
  • Take precise measurements without estimating

How to Wear these Garments

You can wear your compression stockings by yourself or use a donner. Before you go shopping for a pair, measure your legs earlier in the day before the swelling in the legs builds up. You may need to wear the hosiery on one leg or both legs. After buying the compression hosiery, you can start by smoothing out the hosiery until they lie flat on your skin without bunching. After wearing them, do not fold or roll down the top of the hoses, as this can make them become too tight and uncomfortable. This can cut off blood circulation and cause other problems. Be sure to keep the stockings on during the day and take them off at night before you go to bed. First thing in the morning, put them back on. Some of these thigh and knee highs hosiery come with a zipper to ease wearing and removal.

thigh length measurement

How to Wear Support Thigh and Knee Highs Hosiery

  • Insert your hand into the hose
  • Turn the hose inside out
  • Begin to put the hose on
  • Get the heel located properly
  • Pull the rest of the hose up

How to Use a Donning Device

recommended donning device
how to use a donning device
  • Lay the hose in the ring with the toe facing you
  • Turn the hose inside out and make sure it goes over the frame
  • Slide the hose down over the ring until the heel is exposed
  • Slip your foot inside the hose
  • Pull the hose by pulling the side of the donner  

How Long Do You Have to Wear Them?

Thigh and knee highs support stockings that are recommended after surgery should be worn day and night. Wear them as much as possible until you can move around on your own. You can take off your hosiery whenever you want to bathe or shower. They are quite convenient so you can wear your regular hosiery, shoes, or slippers over them. If you have a condition that affects your blood circulation and compression hosiery were prescribed for you, you may have to wear them for many years.  In some cases, you may have to wear them for the rest of your life or until your condition improves.

What to Avoid:

  • Wearing the thigh or knee highs support hosiery more than twenty-four hours
  • Sleeping with the support hosiery on

Choosing the Right Compression Level

ideal pressure level
pressure is greatest at the ankle

Extra-large size compression thigh or knee highs hosiery are very effective in treating and preventing lymphedema, venous system diseases, phlebitis, and circulatory problems. You can choose compression hosiery with either firm or extra-firm support levels if you are pregnant or have minor swelling, post-surgery, or varicose veins. Compression hosiery have become popular among athletes because of benefits such improved circulation, minimized muscle soreness, pain relief, fatigue prevention, reduced swelling, reduced time of recovery, and support for tendon, muscle, and joint. Hence, firm compression support hosiery are highly recommended for endurance sports such as running, skiing, hiking, and post-workout recovery. However, if you are new to the use of large support hosiery, you should consult your healthcare provider about the best compression level for your health.

high pressure should be prescribed by a doctor

What You Should Avoid:

  • A higher pressure level that is not prescribed by a doctor
  • Estimating the size of either thigh or knee highs support hosiery

What are the Side Effects of these Hosiery?

It is wrong to self-prescribe compression support hosiery because some patients could worsen their condition by using them. Compression hosiery could worsen conditions like peripheral vascular disease in the lower extremities, ischemic diseases, or even diabetes.

When you start using your large size compression support hosiery, check your legs and toes regularly for signs of irritation or redness on your skin. Also watch out for hose bunching. If you notice these signs or changes on your skin, it could mean one of the following:

  • The support hosiery are not a good fit, and misusing them could cause peripheral nerve damage
  • You have either been wearing or removing them
  • This could result in problems like skin breakage
  • You may be allergic to the sock’s material
  • You may have an infection

What are the Main Contraindications?

choose allergy free medical hoses
consider soft material medical hoses
  1. Allergy to thigh or knee highs support hosiery material
  2. Suspected peripheral arterial disorder
  3. Extreme leg deformity
  4. Soft-tissue or local skin condition

When to Replace Your Pair

Think of replacing your thigh or knee highs support hosiery when they:

  • Get loose
  • Are 6+ months old
get the right support where you need it


Thigh or knee highs support hosiery are meant for people whose legs, calves and feet are too large for smaller or regular sizes. They work great for these set of people by applying just the right amount of pressure to the legs and ankles. Then blood will flow easily from the lower extremities to the heart. People wear them for comfort, to prevent severe medical conditions, or to perform better in sports.

Before using your large size support hosiery, remember to get properly fitted, follow the guidelines on wearing and removing the hosiery, follow your doctor’s instructions concerning how long you are to wear them for. Also, ensure that you watch your legs closely to see if there are skin changes caused by wearing the extra-large size support hosiery.

Your physician or healthcare provider can advise you on the right size and support levels for your condition.