Compression stockings are classified as “firm” if they exert a compression level of 20-30 mmHg*). Although compression hosiery of this compression level does not require a prescription it should always be applied under the guidance and recommendation of a physician, mainly to ensure there are no preexisting conditions that would preclude the individual from wearing compression stockings.
The compression rating of 20-30 mmHg is the first compression grade that falls in the range of medical compression levels. However, individuals don’t necessarily have to have a medical condition to wear these firm grade compression stockings.
Frequently people who are wearing compression stockings in the 15-20 mmHg range may choose to wear compression stockings, pantyhose or leggings in the 20-30 mmHg range for a little added support and comfort.
*) mmHg is a unit of measure in millimeters of mercury for the pressure applied by compression stockings – it is also the same measuring unit that is used to determine blood pressure
How Can Firm Compression Stockings Benefit Your Legs?
Firm compression stockings of 20-30 mmHg medical grade are recommended for a number of more or less severe conditions. They are often used for preventive care or recovery treatments such as:
- Heavy and tired feeling legs
- Low grade varicose veins
- Varicose veins during pregnancy
- Varicose veins with edema
- Visible minor varicosities of the skin
- CVI (chronic venous insufficiency)
- After sclerotherapy, thermal ablation or vein surgery
- Post-traumatic edema
- Treatment of moderate to severe edema or lymphatic edema
- Prevention of deep vein thrombosis or post DVT treatment
- Management of active and healed venous ulcerations
- PTS (post-thrombotic syndrome) or prevention of the same
- Helping to relieve symptoms associated with superficial thrombophlebitis
- Prevention of orthostatic hypotension (sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing)
- Prevention of DVT during long-distance travel (e.g. economy class syndrome)
Types and Styles of Firm Support Compression Hosiery
- Sheer firm support pantyhose style or compression stockings (open or closed toe, sandal foot or reinforced toes and heels or dress sheer style)
- Firm support leggings (with or without control top)
- Sheer firm support thigh high compression stockings (open or closed toe, sandal foot or reinforced toes and heels or dress sheer style)
- Firm support thigh highs or calves sleeves without foot (sheer, opaque or athletic style)
- Sheer firm support knee-high compression stockings (open or closed toe, sandal foot or reinforced toes and heels or dress sheer style)
- Over the calf firm support socks (sheer or athletic style)
The largest selection of all these styles of firm 20-30 mmHg compression stockings and support hose can be found online and sometimes in medical supply stores.
A more limited range of compression hosiery is usually available over the counter in certain department stores, drug stores or even from health care providers.
As we have pointed out on other occasions, it is particularly important to get the sizing right in order to get the best support and comfort from wearing your compression or support hosiery.
If the size is too big the supportive effect of the compression stockings will be diminished and if the hosiery is too tight it could actually impair rather than improve blood circulation.
Depending on your condition(s) compression that is too tight could make things worse or even be dangerous.
For more information about proper sizing and fit we recommend reading some of our other blog posts…
Even if you don’t need to wear compression stockings or support socks for a medical condition it is not unreasonable to consider them for preventative purposes as well.
Research has shown that with advancing age the distribution of blood throughout the legs can become less than optimal, which can manifest itself with signs of swelling (from the pooling of blood and fluids) and varicose veins in the legs.
Wearing compression and support hosiery can often compensate for the reduced efficiency in blood circulation especially in the area of the calves and ankles, where pooling of blood can have progressively damaging effects if proper circulation of blood and drainage of lymphatic fluids is not maintained.
Therefore both women and men can definitely benefit from compression and support garments that are designed to promote and preserve leg health well into their golden years.
Considering how fashionable today’s colors, design patterns and styles of compression and support stockings, socks, pantyhose or leggings are, you won’t have to compromise your dressing styles for work or play.