If you’ve looked around for compression stockings, you may have come across the term ‘levels’ or ‘classes.’ To put it simply, greater the compression level or class, tighter the fit and pressure. ‘Graduated’ compression means that pressure gradually decreases as you go further up the leg. Compression stockings have maximum pressure at the ankles, which progressively reduces as you move towards the top. This helps in pushing the blood back up to the heart, aiding circulation.
‘Levels’ or ‘classes’ are measured in mmHg (millimeters of mercury), which is also the measurement of blood pressure.
Even though people widely use the words support and compression stockings interchangeably, the principles of the two differ.
Support stockings have mild graduated compression and serve more as a preventive measure. These can be worn by perfectly healthy adults to maintain leg health and reduce the risk of developing vein-related issues. Medical Compression stockings, on the other hand, are produced under strict medical and technical specifications to provide precise graduated compression. Often prescribed by medical practitioners, they’re used for the treatment of venous and lymphatic disorders.
Stockings with low compression levels do not require a prescription and can be worn by anyone who wants to prevent venous disorders and relieve mild symptoms.
Compression stockings with higher levels – 23 mmHg to 46 mmHg are generally prescribed by doctors who determine the right level for your needs.
Below is a general guide to help you understand Sigvaris compression classes and their uses. While this guide gives a quick understanding of the classes, it is not binding. The need and severity of your issue will rightly determine the compression class you need. Talk to your doctor about the right compression class for you.
Mild compression, can be worn by anyone
Moderate compression, first level in medical compression
Firm compression, most commonly prescribed compression level
Very firm compression, prescribed for advanced conditions
* If you suffer from peripheral arterial disease, congestive heart failure, advanced peripheral neuropathy or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), please consult your doctor before wearing medical compression stockings