Support hosiery: Understanding my options

DISCLAIMER: This guide is based on general cases and our extensive experience. If there is any contradiction to what your doctor prescribed, always adhere to your doctor’s guidance.

Compression Level

There are three different compression levels to choose between. If you have a recommendation from a doctor, choose that option. Otherwise, you can use this chart as a guide to selecting the correct compression level based on your symptoms and requirements.
If you aren’t sure which level is right for you, we are happy to discuss it with you. You can contact us for help now or wait until we call you after you’ve submitted the form.

Compression level

Symptoms

Ease of application

Class 1
(15-20 mmHg)

  • Minor swelling
  • Spider veins
  • General leg fatigue /heaviness
  • Preventative use.
  • Traveling (especially during pregnancy.)

Mild effort (this class is therefore usually recommended for those with limited mobility.)

Class 2 (most popular)

(20-30 mmHg)

  • Swelling
  • Varicose veins
  • Pregnancy-related varicose veins and leg pain.

Mild to moderate effort.

Class 3

(30-40 mmHg)

  • Severe swelling
  • DVT
  • Very painful varicose veins.

Not recommended during  pregnancy without a doctor’s recommendation.

Moderate to challenging effort.

Class 1: 15-20 mmHg
Symptoms:

  • Minor swelling
  • Spider veins
  • General leg fatigue /heaviness
  • Preventative use.
  • Traveling (especially during pregnancy.)

Ease of application:
Mild effort (this class is therefore usually recommended for those with limited mobility.)

Class 2 (most popular): 20-30 mmHg
Symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Varicose veins
  • Pregnancy-related varicose veins and leg pain.

Ease of application:
Mild to moderate effort

Class 3: 30-40 mmHg
Symptoms:

  • Severe swelling
  • DVT
  • Very painful varicose veins.

Not recommended during  pregnancy without a doctor’s recommendation.

Ease of application:
Moderate to challenging effort

Fabric Types

This table discusses the benefits and drawbacks of four different fabric types. Note that not all compression levels are available in each fabric type.

Fabric types

Benefits

Disadvantages

Compression available

Medical weight

Classic support hosiery, very strong and durable. Black is very popular in this weight.

They can be hot in the summer, and some find
the fabric uncomfortable.

Class 2 and 3

Sheer weight

Very elegant hose, looks almost like regular pantyhose. Very popular in Summer.

Slightly less supportive than medical weight, needs gentle handling to prevent tearing. Slightly pricier than medical weight.

Class 2 and 3
(Maternity pantyhose is only available in class 2)

Ultra sheer

Very thin breathable hosiery. Cheapest option, great for flying.

Needs very gentle handling (can tear easily)

Class 1 and 1.5

Microfiber

Silky soft, breathable fabric. Especially popular among the elderly or those with sensitive skin.

The Beige is a little pink and the black is slightly ‘off black’. Offers the lowest level of compression.

Class 1 and 1.5

Medical weight
Benefits:
Classic support hosiery, very strong and durable. Black is very popular in this weight.
Disadvantages:
They can be hot in the summer, and some find the fabric uncomfortable.
Compression Available:
Class 2 and 3
Sheer weight
Benefits:
Very elegant hose, looks almost like regular pantyhose. Very popular in Summer.
Disadvantages:
Slightly less supportive than medical weight, needs gentle handling to prevent tearing. Slightly pricier than medical weight.
Compression Available:
Class 2 and 3
(Maternity pantyhose is only available in class 2)
Ultra sheer
Benefits:
Very thin breathable hosiery. Cheapest option, great for flying.
Disadvantages:
Needs very gentle handling (can tear easily)
Compression Available:
Class 1 and 1.5
Microfiber
Benefits:
Silky soft, breathable fabric. Especially popular among the elderly or those with sensitive skin.
Disadvantages:
The Beige is a little pink and the black is slightly ‘off black’. Offers the lowest level of compression.
Compression Available:
Class 1 and 1.5

Socks or Pantyhose?

Your options:

  • Knee highs
  • Thigh highs
  • Pantyhose
  • Maternity pantyhose
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It is generally advisable to choose an option that covers the area of the varicose veins /issue. If the veins or swelling is primarily in the ankle /lower leg, you can choose knee highs. If it continues around or above the knee you should choose thigh high or pantyhose. However, if the issue continues onto your thighs or is only on the upper leg, you will need pantyhose.

Other points to consider:

  • It is extremely important that the support you choose does not end in the middle of your varicose veins/swelling as that can actually aggravate the problem.
  • We do not recommend thigh highs if you have very full thigh as there is a greater risk of the 2 ends chaffing and thereby slipping down.
  • Thigh highs need a silicone band to stay up, so if your skin is sensitive to silicone this may not be the best choice for you.

Open or Closed Toe?

The toe area comes with an option of either open or closed toe. There are usually no medical ramifications either way.

We stock open toe in black knee highs and all beige medical weight hosiery, excluding maternity hosiery. Most Microfibre and sheer hosiery can be ordered in open toe. If we will have to order it in for you, we will tell you how long you can expect it to take before you finalize your order.

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We generally recommend choosing open toe if you are planning to wear an additional sock on top, or if you perspire excessively. Some customers who are more sensitive have found the sensation of the sock ending uncomfortable.

How do I order Birthlite support hosiery online?

1. Choose your styles and support levels.
Our order form has photos of each style so you’ll know exactly what you’re choosing,
and this page provides you with plenty of information to help you understand the different support options. We’ll discuss this with you before finalizing your order, so if you aren’t sure about anything just leave it blank.

2. Measure yourself.
We wanted to make this as simple as possible. Wrap a tape measure around your legs at various points as we show on the diagram on the order form, and write down the measurements. Working out exactly which size will fit you best can be complicated, so just leave that part to us.

3. Submit the form.
Just fill out your personal details and tell us how we can best contact you. Because support hose is a very individual purchase, we want to discuss with you exactly which products will
fit you best.

4. Speak with us.
We will contact you to run through your requirements and discuss the most suitable
recommendations. We want your support hose to be the perfect fit for you!

5. Pay and finalize your order.
Once you are happy with your selection, you can give us your credit card details over the
phone to finalize your order.

6. Receive your order.
Get your support hose delivered to your door, and enjoy the relief.

Any questions?

Don’t hesitate to phone or email us now, or submit the form here and we’ll call you back at your convenience.