Clinical Benefits of Lightweight Compression: Reduction of Venous-Related Symptoms by Ready-to-Wear Lightweight Gradient Compression Hosiery


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Robert A. Weiss, MD, Dermatology Associates, 54 Scott Adam Rd., Baltimore, MD 21030. E-mail:


Background. Medical-grade compression of class I (20–30 mmHg) and class II (30–40 mmHg) have been shown to be beneficial against venous hypertension or congestion. Relatively few studies address the effects of ready-to-wear (RTW) lightweight gradient compression pantyhose on venous symptoms.

Objective. To perform a study comparing the effects of two different compression RTW lightweight gradient compression stockings (8–15 mmHg and 15–20 mmHg) on the venous symptoms of flight attendants.

Method. A prospective crossover trial of symptom evaluation in 19 flight attendants was performed in which participants rated their symptoms on a visual analog scale. During the initial phase, participants wore no compression for 2 weeks. They then wore 8–15 mmHg and 15–20 mmHg gradient compression support hose while flying over a 4-week period. Symptoms before and after wearing the gradient compression stockings were compared and statistically analyzed.

Results. Wearing of 8–15 mmHg gradient hose resulted in statistically significant improvement of discomfort (P < 0.01). Swelling, fatigue, aching, and tightness of the leg were all improved to a statistically significant degree (P < 0.01). For 15–20 mmHg gradient hosiery, symptoms were improved to a statistically significant or almost significant level. The difference between the 8–15 mmHg and 15–20 mmHg compression was not statistically significant.

Conclusions. Use of lightweight (low compression) RTW gradient compression hosiery is very effective in improving symptoms of discomfort (P < 0.01), swelling (almost P < 0.05), fatigue (P < 0.05), aching (P < 0.01), as well as leg tightness. Improvement of symptoms is statistically significant compared to no compression when hosiery was worn regularly during waking hours for 4 weeks.