How to Choose Between Full-Length Compression Stocking Styles
So your doctor told you to wear full-length compression stockings. Knee-highs are out of the question, so what’s the next best option: thigh highs, pantyhose, or leggings?
Here are a few of the top pieces of advice I’ve learned over the years along with some of my favorite tips for choosing the best length compression garment for your needs.
Video Highlights: When prescribed compression stockings, it’s not uncommon for a doctor suggest a full-length style. This could apply whether you have DVT, POTS, an advanced varicosity, or are coming out of surgery. Unfortunately doctors don’t always accompany this suggestion with the pros & cons of each style, making it hard to know which may be best for you. They are typically 3 full-length styles: thigh highs, pantyhose, and leggings.
Knit from a nylon-spandex blend, these are typically topped with a stay-up band. The stay up band style varies by item and brand, however the most commonly used is enhanced with a sticky “dot” pattern on the thigh bands interior. This dot material is made from surgical grade silicone so offers more adhesion than a band you might find in a department store brand thigh high. The lack of a tummy top offered in a thigh high makes this style a great option for ease of getting on and off (think quicker bathroom breaks and dressing time than a full pantyhose). One potential caveat is that some find the silicone to slip down during the day. For many, this is remedied with an easy adjustment – a garment with proper fit shouldn’t move too much. So consider body type when evaluating whether a compression thigh high is right for you. We’ve found pear shapes often prefer pantyhose to avoid band slippage in the upper thigh area whereas straight shapes may experience adequate hold.
Compression pantyhose are similar in style to typical department store pantyhose, the largest difference lying in the firm compression contained in the legs. Tummy tops vary by brand. Some offer moderate compression like a shaping garment while others offer breathing room for comfort. When reading about different pantyhose across brands, be sure to check out the item’s waistband. Rejuva’s, in particular, are knit in a wide honeycomb style designed to hold up without binding. Personally, solid elastic bands give me tummy aches when worn for more than a few hours, so this is something I look out for to ensure I don’t have when shopping. Some come with adjustable waistbands (Medi brand for example). These are similar to what you might find in a child’s pant with a hidden button sewn into the waistband that you can adjust through a small opening in the elastic. I find pantyhose to be great for more formal occasions when you want shaping under a dress. They’re more difficult to get in and out of than a thigh high, but also offer the added benefit of light back support when standing for long periods.
Footless variations aren’t for everyone so be sure to ask you physician whether it will adequately address your needs. Since the garment starts at the base of the ankle, it doesn’t offer compression in the heel area, which can render it less effective than full foot options for wearers with advanced conditions or varicosities. For those for whom footless compression is an OK option, these are a great style for summer & warm weather. I love wearing them with sandals, open top shoes and flats to feel a little more normal when dressing up in summer compression. Like pantyhose, they offer more torso support than thigh highs, lifting the bum & shaping the midsection. Rejuva’s are knit with an extra wide 4-inch waistband, a special feature we spent an extra 9 months developing and very rare in the world of compression. They also offer a nice hug of low back support.
Takeaway decision-making tips
When choosing a full-length compression style, be sure to consider your body type. What type of pants typically works best for you? If you like wider or bootleg cuts and have a full shape, a legging or pantyhose may be a better fit. On the other hand, if you like very tapered cuts and have a straight shape, thigh highs may also hold up well on your build.
What kind of features do you like: Garments that stay up without any adjustment (ex: pantyhose)? Freedom offered by easy in & out (ex: thigh highs)? Weigh all of these factors when deciding which style may be best for you.
Once you get them …
Be sure to try them on! Proper fit is essential for effective compression therapy. You won’t wear a garment that doesn’t fit comfortably so be sure to give them a test run as soon as you get them home. If the first garment you selected isn’t quite the right fit, don’t be discouraged. Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs to meet your prince.
Call a support team member to see if you can gain added advice on what may be right for you. Explain any likes or dislikes. Chances are a well-trained customer service representative has heard similar questions before & can guide you in the right direction based on what they’ve heard from other wearers.