According to manufacturer recommendations, the average life expectancy or usefulness of compression hosiery is between 3-6 months. That being said, it always depends on your individual circumstances of wear and tear and how well you are caring for your compression stockings or pantyhose.
Keep in mind also that compression stockings can only do their job of boosting the blood circulation in the leg veins if the graduated compression of the stockings is applied properly.
This means that the pressure must be the highest (tightest) at the ankle area and from there gradually become less going up the leg with the applied pressure being the lowest in the upper thigh area.
The Following Factors Can Have a Considerable Effect on the Useful Life of Your Compression Hosiery:
- Washing your compression stockings gently and in a protective laundry bag – doing so can prevent snags caused by hooks or zippers of other clothing items or any rough edges on the agitator of the washing machine that your compression hosiery could catch on.
- Washing them in a gentle detergent without bleach – harsh detergents and bleach can have a negative effect on the elastic fibers of your compression stockings and cause them to break down or lose their proper elasticity.
- After washing NEVER wring out your compression stockings – it is best to let them air dry. If you must dry them faster we recommend rolling them up in a plush towel and gently squeezing the towel to extract the moisture from the compression stockings. You can repeat this with different sections of the towel until the stockings feel dry.
- Drying compression hosiery with heat sources – compression hosiery should not be dried with heat or in the dryer at all but rather air dried laying flat or hanging. The high heat of a dryer can prematurely damage the elastic fibers of the compression stockings and potentially even cause them to break. If necessary, compression stockings should only be dried in a protective laundry bag inside the dryer using a low heat/no heat cycle for delicate garments.
- Wearing compression stockings after moisturizing your legs – oils and lotions for your legs don’t agree very well with the elastic fibers of compression stockings and can potentially weaken them or break them down prematurely. Therefore moisturize your legs at night when you are not wearing compression stockings.
- Wearing your compression hose or stockings on a daily basis – simply wearing compression garments every day causes the elastic fibers to fatigue and eventually break.
When Should You Replace Your Compression Stockings or Pantyhose?
- If you have a much easier time donning and doffing your compression stockings (this is a sure fire sign that their compression is no longer within the initial specifications and therefore no longer effective).
- If you can see areas on the stocking or pantyhose legs that are beginning to look somewhat saggy and out of shape and no longer squeeze the leg compared to the rest of the stocking.
- If you notice sections where the woven fibers have become thinner and worn looking.
- If you have lost or gained weight in the recent months.
- If your compression hose or stocking has a hole in it (really small holes can be fixed and should not affect their effectiveness).
- Even if you think your compression stockings or pantyhose still looks and feels pretty good, you should still replace them at least every six months to ensure that you get the maximum benefit of compression.
As always be sure to talk to your healthcare provider first before trying any compression stockings. Only he is qualified to determine if compression stockings are right for you and if so which level of compression would be best for your individual situation and symptoms.
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