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Compression Stockings & Support Hosiery
Jobst, Mediven, Juzo, Sigvaris and Allegro

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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Compression Hosiery

We're always glad to hear from you and answer any questions you may have. If you need a quick answer, please use our Live Chat service, available from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday by clicking the "Chat Now" button to the left. Here are answers to the questions we're asked most often.

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1. Wearing Compression Stockings

2. Compression and Compression Therapy

3. Brands and Types of Products

4. First-Time Buyers

5. Lymphedema armsleeves, gloves, and gauntlets

1. Wearing Compression Stockings

Q. How do I put on my compression stockings?

A. Watch our donning video, which demonstrates several different ways to don, or put on, your compression stockings.

Q. I need help putting on my compression stockings.

A. There are accessories available to assist with the donning of compression stockings.

Donning gloves are one of the most useful and inexpensive donning accessories. Gloves not only protect the stocking from snags and runs, they allow you to get a good grip on the fabric. It's very easy to smooth out wrinkles and adjust the length by using the palms of the gloves. We sell 2 rubber donning gloves, Sigvaris and Mediven, and a cotton glove that has been dipped in rubber from Jobst.

Another very useful donning accessory is silicone lotion. The lotion makes your legs very slippery for a short period of time, so the stockings can easily slide onto your foot and up your leg. Silicone lotions are hypoallergenic and won't harm the fabric of your compression stockings.Alps Fitting Lotion is available in a 4oz squeeze bottle, and Compression Assist is available in a 2oz spray bottle.

Easy-Slide is a nylon sleeve you put on your leg before donning your stocking. The ripstop nylon is very slippery and makes it much easier to don high compression stockings. There is an Easy-Slide for open toe stockings and the Easy-Slide Caran for closed toe stockings.

If you have difficulty bending at the waist, consider using a stocking donner. Stocking donners or butlers are metal frames with handles on each side. You slide the stocking onto the frame, and then step into the stocking. Pulling up on the handles, pulls the stocking up your leg. BrightLife Direct sells 4 different stocking donners and there is an instructional video on each product page..

Q. How do I stop my knee highs from rolling down?

A. Knee high stockings typically roll for two reasons: they are too long, or stretched too tight at the top.

If the top of your stocking is pulled up into the crease of your knee, the movement of your leg will cause it to roll. When putting on your stockings, pull the top-band up so it’s 1-2 finger widths below the crease of your knee. (The stocking doesn’t have to be stretched out to be effective.) If there are wrinkles, smooth them out with the palms of your hands. If you can’t smooth out all the wrinkles, you need a short (petite) length stocking.

If your stocking is too small for your leg, it will often roll. Measure around the widest part of your calf and check the size chart on the package.

If neither of these reasons are the cause, try a knee high with a silicone top-band.

Q. The band on my thigh highs irritates my skin, what can I do?

A. Often a skin reaction to silicone bands is caused by rubbing or friction, not from a reaction to the silicone itself. There are 3 styles of silicone band: stripes, dots and Sensinnov (Sigvaris.) If one style irritates your skin, switching to another style may eliminate the problem. The Sensinnov band is particularly “skin friendly.”

If the irritation is caused by a reaction to the silicone, many of the thigh highs we carry can be special ordered without a silicone band, and you will use either a garter belt or skin glue (It Stays) to keep the stockings in place. We stock Jobst Relief thigh highs without a silicone band.

2. Compression and Compression Therapy

Q. How can compression hosiery help me?

A. Because the legs are farthest from the heart, and blood flowing back to the heart must work against gravity, blood circulation to the legs is often affected by medical conditions, increasing age, weight, or occupational stresses. Any of these can cause serious problems with blood circulation. Impaired blood circulation may cause symptoms ranging from fatigue, aching, and swelling in your hands, legs, and feet to more serious conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). These conditions can usually be reduced by wearing the appropriate type of "graduated compression" hosiery. Doctors call this approach compression therapy.

Q. How does compression hosiery provide "compression therapy"?

A. Graduated compression hosiery applies pressure to the circumference of the leg which affects the leg's surface veins in a graduated, controlled manner. This temporarily reduces the size of the surface veins and forces blood into the deep vein system within the legs. Clinical studies have shown that applying graduated compression to the legs increases blood flow to the deep veins. The result is better blood circulation which usually brings relief from painful symptoms caused by poor blood flow.

Q. What does "graduated" mean as it relates to compression hosiery?

A. Graduated means that the level of compressive pressure applied to the circumference of the leg gradually decreases as you move from the lower to the upper part of the garment. The result is that more pressure is applied to the veins in the lower leg than in the upper leg which pushes fluids up. The amount of pressure in compression hosiery is indicated using the measurement term "mmHg" or millimeters of mercury which is how the compression is measured. Some examples are 15-20mmHg, 20-30mmHg, and 30-40mmHg.

Q. How do I know if I need compression hosiery or if it might benefit me?

A. Doctors recommend compression hosiery for treatment or to provide relief for many conditions affecting the veins. Your doctor or medical professional is your best source to find out if it might help you. Compression hosiery is a medical product and you should check with your doctor before wearing it to ask what level of compression best suits your medical condition. To get the best results from compression therapy, you need to wear the right level of compression and wear a garment that fits you properly.

Q. What medical conditions can be helped by compression hosiery?

A. The symptoms of varicose veins, spider veins, venous insufficiency, phlebitis, chronic ankle and leg swelling, and deep vein thrombosis can all be helped with graduated compression therapy. Because the correct compression level is highly important to getting the best result, you should consult with your doctor or medical professional for advice regarding the appropriate compression level for your condition. Verify this with your doctor from time to time, particularly if your health changes.

Q: Who should NOT wear compression stockings?

A.Absolute contraindications, or medical conditions in which compression is never recommended, include ischemia (e.g. advanced arterial disease), uncontrolled congestive heart failure, untreated septic phlebitis, and phlegmasia coerulea dolens.

Relative contraindications, or medical reasons in which compression is sometimes not recommended, include concomitant dermatoses, intolerance to compression stocking fabric, sensory disturbance of the limb, advanced peripheral neuropathy, and primary chronic arthritis..

Q. Are there socks for people with diabetes?

A. Yes there are socks designed specifically for diabetics. Diabetic socks are woven with either no compression or a very low level of compression that is non-constricting. They have an antimicrobial finish to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus, include moisture wicking fibers to keep the feet dry, and have no seams or have flat smooth seams that don't irritate sensitive skin.

Q. Can young and healthy people or athletes benefit from compression hosiery?

A. Yes. Most adults can benefit from compression hosiery regardless of age. Usually, healthier and younger people wear lighter levels of compression.

Anyone who spends a great deal of time sitting behind a desk or standing up for extended periods may experience constriction of blood vessels and blood pooling in their legs and feet. They will find that graduated compression hosiery can help reduce the swelling, fatigue, and leg aches as their circulation gets a boost from the hosiery. The heavier levels of compression should only be worn under a doctor's supervision.

Athletes, particularly runners, find that knee-high compression hosiery improves performance and reduces recovery time as less fatigue is felt after a work-out. Frequent travelers can wear travel socks to help prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Many pregnant women develop venous problems, such as varicose veins and spider veins, and maternity pantyhose can help prevent or minimize these problems.

Q. I'm a frequent flyer. I've heard of "economy class syndrome" and wonder if compression hosiery can help prevent this?

A. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), also known popularly as economy class syndrome, is a very serious condition in which dangerous blood clots can form in the legs during flights due to cabin pressure and cramped seating positions. Studies show that graduated compression hosiery, sometimes called travel socks can help prevent or minimize the formation of these blood clots.

No matter how healthy you are, when you are passively seated in a plane, a car, or even at a desk, for long periods of inactivity during which the leg muscles are not moved can lead to blood pooling in the legs. This causes swelling and discomfort and may even lead to the formation of blood clots in veins deep inside the legs. When activity resumes, a blood clot can move to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. Anyone who spends long periods of time in passive sitting can be at risk. You can reduce the risk by wearing compression stockings. Compression therapy will help your legs feel energized and reduce swelling in the legs and feet. It's one of the simplest things you can do to prevent DVT.

3. Brands and Types of Products

Q. How do I decide which brand to buy?

A. All brands offer the three basic styles (knee-highs, thigh-highs, and pantyhose) in the standard compression levels (15-20mmHg, 20-30mmHg, and 30-40mmHg). The differences between brands are often in the type of fabrics offered (sheer, opaque, etc.) and options available (open toe, petite length, silicone band, etc.). For detailed information on selecting a brand, see the page Which brand is right for You?

Q. Why are some brands so much more expensive than others?

A. Because compression hosiery is a medical product that must meet strict standards of performance, the materials used, the fabric finish, and the techniques employed in weaving the hosiery contribute to the cost. Premium brands made by large companies with established reputations are more expensive than private-label brands which have lower marketing and packaging costs. Other factors that affect compression hosiery costs are fabric quality, level of compression, and ease of care for the products. Smoother, softer fabrics and higher levels of compression have higher production costs. The premium brands allow machine washing and in some products machine drying. The lower-cost hosiery usually requires hand washing and air drying.

Q. I hear the terms support stockings, support hose, compression hosiery, and compression hose all used from time to time and wonder if they mean the same thing?

A. Yes they do – at BrightLife Direct we use the term compression hosiery most often, but they all mean the same thing.

Q. Will I get the same compression from sheer fabric stockings as I will from the thicker opaque fabric stockings?

A. Yes. Both fabrics provide the same level of compression, the force pushing in on your legs. If you have mild swelling and/or venous insufficiency, most fabrics should work well for you. If you suffer from edema (swelling), you may need a thicker fabric that offers better containment. If your stockings are creasing into your skin, that's an indication that you need higher containment. Examples of stockings that provide high containment are Juzo Dynamic, Sigvaris 500 Rubber, and Mediven Forte. In general, the thicker opaque fabrics will be more durable than the thinner sheers.

Q. How long do compression stockings last?

A. They should last between four and six months, depending on the type of fabric (sheer stocking fabrics are not as durable as opaque), and if they are cared for properly. Keep the following factors in mind when estimating how long your hosiery should last:

  1. The most common reason for compression garments wearing out too quickly is when they are washed and dried carelessly – just thrown in with the regular wash – or not cleaned when needed. Washing and drying must be according to the manufacturer's instructions which come with each pair. Be sure to use the correct kind of cleaning solution – for example, Jolastic or HosieryMate Washing Solutions are recommended for cleaning compression hosiery. We can't mention its name but one popular hand-washing solution for wool garments can ruin the compressive ability of the garments so don't simply assume that what you have on hand is appropriate – ask us. Don't use high temperatures when washing or drying, and don't machine-dry unless the stocking instructions specifically allow for it.
  2. Clean frequently enough to remove the natural perspiration, skin oils, skin acids, and skin flakes that the skin is always producing and shedding. Letting these substances remain in contact with the stocking fibers will weaken them and decrease the life span of the garment.
  3. When donning and removing the hosiery, don't snag the stockings on jewelry, finger or toe nails, or rough surfaces. Long toe nails can tear or cause increased wear in the toe area.
  4. If worn with shoes that have worn or rough linings, or shoes that are too tight which rub against the stocking fabric, the life span of the garment will be decreased.
  5. Compression will gradually decrease over time so mark your calendar with a reminder of when you need to replace your stockings.

Q. What's the difference between open-toe and closed-toe stockings?

A. An open-toe stocking is one that is woven so that the toe area and the area about one or two inches behind the toe are not covered by the stocking – i.e., the toes and part of the foot remain bare. In recent years, with the increased popularity of high-fashion shoes for women and sandals for both men and women, there's been a bigger demand for compression hosiery made in the open-toe style.

Q. Does compression hosiery still have that "clinical look," or do I now have more stylish options?

A. Compression hosiery has come a long way since the days when support stockings all looked clinical. You can now select fashionable sheer or very sheer hose in an array of attractive colors while still benefiting from compression levels ranging from the lower end (8-15mmHg) to the higher levels of compression (30-40mmHg). Men's socks are now woven using techniques that make them indistinguishable from regular ribbed dress socks. Women's trouser socks look like regular socks as well. Because of the advanced weaving technology now employed, most non-surgical types of compression hose do not have a clinical appearance.

Q. What is the difference between anti-embolism stockings (TED) and graduated compression hosiery?

A. Anti-embolism stockings, also called TED stockings, are used in hospitals for non-mobile patients. Doctors prescribe them for those patients who are still in recovery rooms or who are undergoing post-surgical treatment while still confined to a bed. TED stockings, in appearance, are made from white fabric and have an inspection opening just above the toes. TED compression is not graduated but is at the same level throughout the length of the garment.

Graduated compression hosiery is different because the hose are designed specifically for people who are capable of moving around – i.e., they are mobile. The hosiery provides more compressive pressure at the lower end of the garment and gradually decreases towards the upper end of the garment. A low level of compression is 15-20mmHg. A high level of compression is 30-40mmHg.

4. First-Time Buyers

Q. Any advice for a first-time buyer of compression hosiery? What style should I buy?

A. The stockings are available in a range of styles or lengths.

Knee-High Hosiery or Socks : If you have aching feet or swelling in the lower legs or ankles, you may need a knee-high stocking that provides compression from the ankle to just below the knee. Typically, this is the easiest style to fit.

Thigh-High Hosiery or Pantyhos e: If you need compressive support throughout the entire length of the leg, thigh-high stockings, pantyhose, or a leotard are appropriate.

Q. How do I know what size to order?

A. Great question … wearing the right size is crucial to getting the best results from compression hosiery. Before you measure, you'll need to know four things: compression level, style of hosiery, hosiery brand, and brand-line (examples of brand line are Jobst UltraSheer or Jobst Opaque). See the page Selecting the Right Size for more details.

Q. What about insurance – does it usually cover compression hosiery?

A. Many insurance plans don't cover compression hosiery but you should check to see if yours will reimburse you for the expense. Because of the administrative costs, we regret that we are unable to process insurance claims for you. You'll need to check with your insurance company regarding coverage and how to file for reimbursement.

5. Lymphedema armsleeves, gloves, and gauntlets

Q. Are there armsleeves without silicone?

A. Armsleeves are available without silicone. The Juzo Varin 3511/3512 is available without a silicone top band. There is also a model of this sleeve available with a shoulder strap. The Medi 95 armsleeves are also available with and without silicone. If silicone irritates your arm, but you don't want to wear the Varin model with a strap, try "It Stays" body adhesive. It's water soluble and won't harm your sleeve or clothing.

Q. Can I wear a sleeve and glove from different manufacturers?

A. It is advisable to wear a sleeve and glove/gauntlet from the same manufacturer. Some lymphedema garments have reduced compression at the wrist, so when worn together, they don't cause a point of constriction.

Q. Do compression armsleeves come in colors other than beige?

A. They do! Juzo dies their Soft 2000 sleeve and calls it the DreamSleeve. Colors change every Spring and Fall. There are typically 5 colors available each season. Gauntlets are available to match. LympheDiva's not only offers a variety of colors, they also manufacture a huge selection of prints, from mild to wild. Matching gauntlets are available from LympheDiva as well.

Q. Do compression gloves come in colors other than beige?

A. Gloves with fingers are only available in beige with one exception. The Medi 95 Glove with Compressive Fingers is available in beige and mocha to match the sleeves in these 2 colors. This is the only choice.

Q. I have a long arm, what are my choices?

A. Both Juzo and Mediven offer the choice of a "regular" or "long" in their compression sleeves. To measure the length of your arm, bend it slightly at the elbow and measure around the outside of your arm from a point even with your armpit to your wrist. As you can imagine, this is best done with help from another person.

Q. What is the difference between a compression glove and gauntlet?

A. Gloves have fingers gauntlets do not. The front edge of a gauntlet stops at the knuckles and does NOT provide any compression to the fingers. Gloves with fingers are sewn by hand from a flat weave fabric that's also used to make custom stockings. They're not woven like sleeves and some gauntlets. This limits your choice of color and makes them quite expensive.

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