Different Types of Compression Garments

Last Updated on 07/02/2021

Different Types of Compression Garments

Mohammad Zain Ul Abideen
B. Sc. in Textile Engineering, Pakistan.
E-mail: davilzain@yahoo.com


Compression Garments
Compression garments or pressure garments are pieces of clothing that provide support. It is important after undergoing plastic surgery to wear compression garments to avoid swelling and bruising of the operated area.t that is especially useful for people who have to stand for long periods, or people with poor circulation. There are different types of compression garments include sleeves, gloves, stockings, tights, toe gloves and a variety of specially fitted garments for individual needs.

types of Compression Garments
Fig: Different types of compression Garments

Types of compression garments:
Following are the five types of compression garments such as:

  1. Hides
  2. Thigh length or knee length garment stocking
  3. Chin Strap
  4. Legs with short zippers
  5. Face mask pressure garment

1. Hides:
Horse owners are often sports people and will follow the trends in exercise performance and will understand the many benefits of hides which may include improvements in recovery, better warm-up before and cool-down after exercise, reduced muscle soreness, reduced swelling and reduced risk of travel sickness. Human athletes found that wearing gradient compression garments after exercise prevented a painful and limiting phenomenon called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS occurs 24-72 hours after intense exercise impacting upon subsequent performances. This is similar to a phenomenon in horses called recurrent exceptional rhabdomyolysis colloquially called “tying-up”, Horses have the disadvantage that they cannot directly inform their owners of the level of their distress.

2. Compression stockings:
Medical compression stockings have been used in the treatment of poor venous blood flow for more than 50 years. These medical compression stockings are usually worn over the leg and foot and are adapted to create a controlled gradient compressive force on the leg. They are specialized hosiery designed to help prevent the occurrence of guard against further progression of venous disorders such as edema, phlebitis and thrombosis. Compression stockings are elastic garments worn around the leg, compressing the limb, exerting pressure against the legs, reducing the diameter of distended veins and causing an increase in venous blood flow velocity and valve effectiveness. Compression therapy helps decrease venous pressure, prevents venous stasis and impairments of venous walls and relieves heavy and aching legs. Unlike traditional dress or athletic stockings and socks, compression stockings use stronger elastics to create significant pressure on the legs, ankles and feet. Compression stockings are tightest at the ankles and gradually become less constrictive towards the knees and thighs. By compressing the surface veins, arteries and muscles, the circulating blood is forced through narrower circulatory channels. As a result, the arterial pressure is increased, which causes more blood to return to the heart and less blood to pool in the feet. Compression stockings are constructed using elastic fibers or rubber. These fibers help compress the limb aiding in circulation. Compression stockings are offered in different levels of compression. The unit of measure used to classify the pressure of the stockings is mmHg.

compression stockings
Fig: Compression stockings

Commonly used terms for compression stockings:
There are two types of compression stocking such as (a) Gradient compression stocking and (b) Anti-Embolism Compression Stockings

(a) Gradient compression stockings:
These stockings are designed to remedy impaired “Musculovenous pump” performance caused by incompetent leg vein valves. They are woven in such a way that the compression level is highest around the ankle and lessen towards the top of the hose. Doctors will typically recommend these stockings for those who are prone to blood clots, lower limb edema and blood pooling in the legs and feet from prolonged periods of sitting or inactivity. They are worn by those who are ambulatory in most cases where they assist the calf muscles to perform their pumping action more efficiently to return blood to the heart.

gradient compression stockings
Fig: Gradient compression stockings

In some cases, they are worn by those at increased risk of circulatory problems such as diabetics whose legs are prone to excessive swelling. A common indicator for the prescription of such stockings is chronic peripheral venous insufficiency caused by incompetent perforator veins. Low pressure compression stockings are available without prescription in most countries and may be purchased at a pharmacy or medical supply store. Stockings with a higher pressure gradient say, above 25-30mmHg may require a prescription from a doctor. There are several crucial cautionary steps that need to be taken before using compression stocking. A patient’s ABI (Ankle brachial index) must be >1.0 per leg to wear compression stockings otherwise the stockings may obstruct the patient’s arterial flow. The ABI indicates how unobstructed a patient’s leg and arm arteries are. Any competent doctor or nurse can measure and calculate a patient’s ABI. It is crucial that compression stockings are properly sized.

The compression should gradually reduce from the highest compression at the smallest part of the ankle, until a 70% reduction of pressure just below the knee. Vascular doctors and nurses may use special pads to ensure uniform higher pressure around the circumference of the ankle (to smooth out the irregular cross-sectional profile). Self-prescription is reasonably safe assuming that the compression gradient is 15-20 mmHg, the ABI (for both legs) is >1.0 and that the stockings fit correctly. “Firm” gradient stockings (20-30 mmHg and 30-40 mmHg) should generally be worn only on medical advice. Although current research reports mixed results of compression socks on athletic performance. There is ecdotal evidence from athletes that they can benefit from such stockings. Wearing gradient compression garments during non activity and immediately after exercise enhances recovery time from injury, reduces DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and swelling associated with exercise and assists the body in flushing out waste products e.g. Lactic acids and Carbon dioxide from vital blood supplies.

While wearing gradient compression garments (skins) during air travel a person experienced:

  • 55% decrease in ankle swelling.
  • 58% improvement in leg pain.
  • 52% improvement in leg discomfort.
  • 13% demonstrated improvement in alertness.
  • 9% improvement in concentration.
  • 14% improvements in energy levels.
  • Improvements in fluid retention and improved post flight sleep.
  • Significant reductions in flight edema were evident and observed whilst wearing Skins CG

(b) Anti-Embolism Compression Stockings:
These stockings are commonly referred to as T.E.D hose which is a registered brand name, although numerous other brands exist known as graduated compression garments. They are used to support the venous and lymphatic drainage of the leg. Like gradient compression stockings, anti-embolism stockings deliver a distributed amount of compression at the ankle and up the leg. This compression when combined with the muscle pump effect of the calf, aids in circulating blood and lymph fluid through the legs (in non-ambulatory patients). Compression wear has also been adopted by the sports science industry. Various garments have been developed to improve the efficiency of muscles by stabilizing muscles and improving circulation or lactic acid removal. Today, compression stockings are available in a wide range of opacities, colors, styles and sizes making them virtually indistinguishable from regular hosiery or socks. Sports scientists have found also it to be of great benefit for athletes to wear graduated compression garments such as skins or 2xu during activity and in particular during time after activity e.g. the increase of oxygen availability to muscles and significantly reduced lactic acid production in the system. It’s found that sports men and women, who wear gradient compression garments during recovery activity, perform better and stay at their peak longer.

Anti-Embolism Compression Stockings
Fig: Anti-Embolism Compression Stockings

3. Chin strap:
The chin Strap improves blood circulation, compresses the bleeding vessels, stops the loss of blood, minimizes swelling after the procedure, accelerates the healing process and allows the patient to return to daily routines sooner. Used following a facial procedure, this compression garment also provides support to surgical areas for more comfort and helps the skin fit better to its new contours. Appropriate for Face lift, Neck lift, Brow lift and Liposuction (face, chin and neck). Moreover, the garment is made of pattern designs that target maximum support and compression. The fabric provides the compression control need to optimize circulation and enhance healing while giving the comfort “feel good” that patients demand.

Chin strap compression garments
Fig: Chin strap

Legs with short zippers:
Leg garments that have zippers are shorter than the top height are placed on the feet in the same way as those with full length zippers. The patient’s foot must be eased through the entire length of the support. When the zippers are fully closed, the rest of the support must be eased into place as a without zippers must be. The elastic backing should be between skin and zipper. Continue up leg to top always holding the fabric together with one hand while closing zipper with other. The area zipper is in will not stretch beyond it. Other areas may require adjusting in length by taking hold of fabric lower on leg and gently working it up to its proper height.

Legs with short zippers
Fig: Legs with short zippers

Face mask pressure garments:
Such type of compression garments are use on the face in case of any injury. Open Velcro closure is use at back of head and an extra hand is needed to hold chin mask on patients. Fabric of mask into hands and stretch over head releasing fabric to fit the facial features in the correct positions. Facial features must be adjusted for comfort. Gently slip a finger underneath fabric at eye opening and pull into place. Do the same for ears, nose and mouth.

Face mask pressure garments
Fig: Face mask pressure garments

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