Cool Compression for Summer

Summer officially began this past Friday, and if the heat and humidity hasn’t arrived where you live, it probably will very soon.  The mere idea of wearing compression stockings when it’s hot may seem unpleasant, but there are options that can keep your feet dry and comfortable even in the warmest weather.

Jobst ActiveWear is one of those options.  In addition to the nylon and spandex found in almost all compression stockings, ActiveWear is made with Dri-Release cotton and polyester.  These fibers are designed to pull moisture away from your skin, so your legs and feet stay dry.

No compression stocking can offer the light, loose feel many of us prefer to wear in warm weather, but ActiveWear is incredibly comfortable.  The foot is very well padded and the toe is seamless, so you don’t need to wiggle your toes to get them comfortable.  The fabric is really soft so it feels nice against your skin, and the top-band is wide and comfortable.

ActiveWear is available in knee-high length.  For proper sizing measure the circumference of your ankle at the narrowest point and calf at the widest, and compare to the Jobst size chart.  ActiveWear is also available in full-calf sizes that fit larger-than-average sized legs, up to a 24” calf circumference.  Three levels of graduated compression are available, from moderate to extra-firm.

I am just back from a walk at lunch, wearing a pair of ActiveWear moderate support.  It’s 91 degrees in DC today and I’m feeling the heat in many places, but my feet are dry.

Jobst ActiveWear foot portion

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct

FarrowWrap Basic

Edema (swelling) either venous or lymphatic, can take many forms.  For some people the swelling is minor, and a moderate compression stocking worn during the day is all that’s necessary to control the swelling.  For others it can be quite severe, and limbs need to be bandaged or wrapped 23 hours a day.  This process is not only difficult, but very time consuming.  An alternative to wrapping with short stretch bandages and padding are compression wraps.  Wide overlapping strips of fabric, held in place by Velcro closures.  These wraps are very easy to put on and take off, are reusable, and mimic the compression provided by short-stretch bandages.  They have also been quite expensive, until now.

Farrow Medical recently introduced their Basic line.  Available for the foot, lower leg, and hand, FarrowWrap Basic provides moderate to strong compression at a very reasonable price.  Bandages for wrapping have a very short life span.  Basic can even be machine washed and dried (no heat).

If you wrap your legs with bandages, or have difficulty putting on traditional compression stockings, ask your therapist if FarrowWrap Basic will work for you.

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct

Travel Socks a.k.a. Compression Stockings

The British love to travel, and they make it really easy.  Major airports have listings of last minute travel packages.  Just show up, pick a holiday, and off you go.  Supplemental travel and health insurance can be purchased inexpensively right at an airport kiosk.  And wearing compression socks on long haul flights is a must, not an afterthought.

The British newspaper, The Telegraph, ran a medical advice article just the other day about a woman who will be traveling from London to Tokyo and was concerned about developing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and wanted to know what steps she could take to prevent it.  Dr. Richard Dawood, a travel health expert, recommended against aspirin because of the low, but definite risk of bleeding in the stomach.  His best and safest recommendation to prevent a DVT… wear compression stockings.  They speed up blood flow, and reduce discomfort caused by ankle and foot swelling.

Dr. Dawood consulted with his travel guru,  vascular surgeon, John Scurr, whose research studies have shown a significantly reduced rate of clot formation among air travellers using graduated compression stockings.  Dr. Scurr recommends a knee high stocking that is sized properly, and specifically mentions Mediven Travel Socks.  Both doctors also recommend standing, walking and stretching as much as you can, and keep hydrated with as little caffeine and alcohol as possible.

For high risk individuals, those who have a past history of blood clots, have had recent surgery, especially on their legs, have blood clotting disorders or are overweight, they recommend talking to their doctor before travel.   In addition to compression stockings, blood-thinning medication might also be considered.

This is probably the twentieth blog we have written with news about travel socks.  You know why?  They work!

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct

Lymphedema and Compression Sleeves – The Basics

Lymphedema is the swelling of tissue because of a lymphatic system malfunction.   A healthy lymphatic system  removes fluid, waste, viruses and bacteria from your body.  If the system is damaged, the fluids and waste accumulate and the tissue swells.  This can happen anywhere on the body, but it most often affects the arms and legs.  There are two types of lymphedema, primary and secondary.  Primary occurs on its own, secondary which accounts for about 95% of lymphedema cases, occurs because of damage to the lymph system, usually by disease, medication, or surgery. Most of our customers have lymphedema or are trying to prevent its occurrence,  because lymph nodes were removed during breast surgery. Even when there aren’t any signs of the condition, women who have had breast surgery are encouraged to wear a compression sleeve on their arm as a preventative measure when engaged in activities that might trigger swelling, such as exercise and air travel.

Therapeutic compression sleeves, like stockings, have graduated compression, with the highest compression at the wrist that gradually decreases as it goes up the arm towards the axilla or armpit.  If there is swelling in the wrist, hand, or fingers, a compression glove or gauntlet is worn in combination with the sleeve.   There are even combination sleeves, that have a gauntlet knit-in.  These eliminate the possibility of any overlap compression at the wrist.  Most compression sleeves are seamless, having been knit in a circular fashion, woven on the same machines using the same nylon and spandex fibers as stockings.

Most compression sleeves have a top-band with dots of silicone on the inside.  These grip the skin and keep the sleeve from sliding down during the day.  Sleeves are also available with a shoulder strap to keep them in place, or “It Stays” body adhesive can be used with a plain knit top-band.

Sleeves come in 3 ready-to-wear compressions, 15-20, 20-30, and 30-40mmHg.  The bigger the numbers, the greater the compression.  If you’re wearing a sleeve as a preventative measure, and there aren’t any signs of lymphedema, your doctor will typically recommend 15-20mmHg or 20-30mmHg.  If you already have lymphedema and are wearing a sleeve to control swelling, one of the higher compressions will most likely be prescribed.

In terms of fashion and comfort, compression sleeves have come a long way in the past 10 years.  The color choices used to be beige and an uglier beige.  Now there are companies that just make sleeves in prints and patterns. LympheDivas, a company founded by two young women fighting lymphedema as a result of breast cancer surgery, would not accept beige as the only option.  They now turn out dozens of beautiful new patterns and prints every year.  Juzo, another manufacturer of compression armsleeves, started their Dream Sleeve line about five years ago.  Every Spring and Fall they introduce five new fashion-forward seasonal “Dream” colors that can be ordered as solids, or tie-dyed with a black or white background.

Athletes have recently embraced compression arm sleeves as a way to boost their performance.  We are starting to see sportier styles for men as well as women.   We expect that the variety of armsleeve options will continue to increase.  BrightLife Direct will always be at the forefront offering you the latest in style and design with the assurance of true medical efficacy.

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct

Chanel Support Stockings… Mais Non!

If you wear support stockings, and are lucky enough to have a closet full of designer clothing, we’re sorry to break the news that compression legwear will not be available at Chanel anytime soon.

In an interview with a French fashion magazine, Karl Lagerfeld, the designer for Chanel, was asked what he would not design.  The rather short list included support stockings.  In addition to designing for Chanel, Mr. Lagerfeld has put his name on an extensive list of products including Coke, ice cream, watches, jelly shoes, a helicopter and a line of clothing for the low price, yet very fashionable H&M.

So what to wear with that beautiful Chanel suit, that won’t leave you with swollen ankles and aching legs at the end of a day?  We recommend Mediven Sheer & Soft or Sigvaris EverSheer.  Both are exceptionally sheer, so no one will know you’re wearing support stockings.  Both are available in a range of compressions, for different levels of support.  And both are available in a variety of beautiful sheer shades, so your legs will look as good as the rest of you.

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct