Plus Size Compression Socks – A Complete Guide


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 compression socks. This could be either due to ignorance or misuse of the socks. It does not matter whether the compression socks are knee-length, thigh-length, or pantyhoses, there are extended sizes that will fit you comfortably. If you are new to compression socks and at a loss as to what these socks are meant for, this complete guide will tell you all there is to know.

What Are Plus Size Compression Stockings?

Basically, compression socks are stockings specially designed for people in need of compression therapy. They come in different sizes, colors, lengths, and compression levels. These specially-made stockings are snug-fitting and stretchy to squeeze your leg gently.

Plus Size Compression Stockings
Plus Size Compression Stockings

Medical 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 larger than most, it can be quite challenging to find a proper fit. When you find the right one, it will provide soothing compression for your feet, ankles, and legs. All you need to do is take a measurement and choose from the assorted range of plus size compression stockings.

Types of Plus Size Compression Stockings

Compression Stockings are of different types and are available without prescription. Some of the major types include:

  • Knee-high
  • Thigh-high
  • Pantyhose
  • Maternity pantyhose
  • Waist attachment
Knee-high Large Size Compression Socks
Knee-high plus size compression stockings
Thigh-high Large Size Compression Stockings
Thigh-high Plus Size Compression Stockings
Pantyhose Compression Socks
Pantyhose Compression Socks
Maternity Pantyhose
Maternity Pantyhose

Benefits of Plus Size Compression Stockings

Basically, large size compression socks offer the same benefits as other compression socks, 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 hoses may prevent downward reflux of blood to the foot or into superficial veins.

Here are some benefits of using plus size compression stockings:

Prevention of Edema or Swelling

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 compression stockings 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.

Prevention of Edema
Prevention of Edema

Temperature Control

Some people wear compression stockings 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.

Compression Stockings for Working
Compression Stockings for Working

Treatment of Varicose Veins

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.

Varicose Veins
Varicose Veins

By wearing compression socks, you will be placing these veins back in their right position. Then there will be improvement in the way blood circulates in the area.

Prevention of Fatigue

People who easily feel pain and fatigue when standing, walking, or running will feel relieved when using compression stockings. Athletes are more likely to last longer and enjoy enhanced performance when wearing plus size compression stockings.

Anti-fatigue Compression Socks
Anti-fatigue Compression Socks

Psychological Effects

Although compression 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.

Plus Size Compression Stockings for Athletes
Large Size Compression Stockings for Athletes

Benefits for Pregnant Women

Many pregnant women tend to retain more fluid and add weight. Plus size compression stockings help to boost blood circulation and prevent fluid retention. This will it easier for pregnant women to walk and work. Also, the knee-high compression hoses 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.

Compression Socks for Pregnant Women
Compression Socks for Pregnant Women

Other Benefits

Some of the other benefits of using compression 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;
Vein Support Compression Socks
Vein Support Compression Socks

Properties of High Quality Plus Size Compression Stockings

Your chosen large size compression socks should possess certain properties. Some basic properties of high-grade plus size compression stockings are:

  • They should be made of soft, resilient, and durable material.
  • They should be clinically proven to be give precise compression.
  • The socks 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.
Machine Washable Compression Socks
Machine Washable Compression Socks

Who Should Use Plus Size Compression 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 big size compression socks:

  • 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
Compression Stockings for Diabetics Patients
Compression Stockings for Diabetics Patients

Conditions or Symptoms that Benefit from the Use of Compression Socks

People use compression socks 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 compression socks:

  • 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)
Individual with Varicose or Spider Veins
Individual with Varicose or Spider Veins
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Factors to Consider before Buying Plus Size Compression Stockings

Many people stand to enjoy a lot of benefits by using compression hoses. However, before you shop for your large size compression socks, consider the following factors:

The Size

Plus size compression stockings 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 Socks Size Chart
Compression Socks Size Chart

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

Some examples of plus sizes for compression socks are:

  • 2XL
  • 3XL
  • Queen Size

The quality and durability of the material

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 hoses. Most times, what you get is what you pay for. Review companies that are known for making medical-grade large size compression stockings for years. Read reviews on their high-grade socks and budget accordingly.

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.

Compression Socks Size Chart
Compression Socks Size Chart

Generally, compression levels could be mild, moderate, or firm and it is important to know the most appropriate for your needs in order to enjoy maximum benefits.

By using the right grade, you will achieve fast results without causing more problems for yourself. These grades for compression levels are:

Grade 1

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 compression 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.

Grade 2

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

How to Measure Large Size Compression Socks

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 Ankle Circumference
How to Measure Ankle Circumference

Then measure your calf circumference.

How to Measure Calf Length
How to Measure Calf Length

Then measure your calf length (to do this, sit and place your legs at an angle of 90 degrees).

How to Measure Calf Circumference
How to Measure Calf Circumference

Next, measure your thigh circumference

How to Measure Thigh Circumference
How to Measure Thigh Circumference

Then your thigh length.

How to Measure Thigh Length

You are now ready to look for your size in any sizing chart by making use of your measurements.

How to Wear Plus Size Compression Stockings

You can wear your compression socks 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 stockings on one leg or both legs. After buying the compression stockings, you can start by smoothing out the stockings 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 socks 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 socks come with a zipper to ease wearing and removal.

Plus Size Compression Socks with Zipper
Large Compression Socks with Zipper

How Long Do You Have to Wear Large Size Compression Socks?

Compression socks 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 stockings whenever you want to bathe or shower. They are quite convenient so you can wear your regular stockings, shoes, or slippers over them.

If you have a condition that affects your blood circulation and compression stockings 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.

Anatomy of Compression Socks
Anatomy of Compression Socks

Choosing the Right Compression Level

Extra large size compression socks are very effective in treating and preventing lymphoedema, venous system diseases, phlebitis, and circulatory problems. You can choose compression stockings with either firm or extra-firm compression levels if you are pregnant or have minor swelling, post-surgery, or varicose veins.

Compression stockings 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 socks are highly recommended for endurance sports such as running, skiing, hiking, and post-workout recovery.

However, if you are new to the use of plus size compression Stockings, you should consult your healthcare provider about the best compression level for your health.

Side Effects of Plus Size Compression Stockings

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

When you start using your large size compression socks, 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 socks are not a good fit, and misusing them could cause peripheral nerve damage;
  • you have either been wearing or removing them
  • wrongly; this could result in problems like skin breakage.
  • you may be allergic to the sock’s material;
  • you may have an infection;

When to Replace Your Plus Size Compression Stockings

You may need to start shopping for a new pair of large size compression stockings when the one you have starts to feel loose. This could happen after about five or six months.


Plus size compression socks 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 compression stockings, remember to get properly fitted, follow the guidelines on wearing and removing the stockings, 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 compression socks.

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