Compression Wraps: Alternatives to Traditional Compression Stockings
While compression stockings are perhaps more well-known, compression wraps deliver the same benefits of compression in a product that’s easier for patients to put on, take off and adjust. Below, we explain what a compression wrap is, compare it to compression stockings, explain when a compression wrap is a good option and discuss how to put on and remove a compression wrap.
What Is a Compression Wrap?
A compression wrap delivers compression therapy through a thick fabric brace-like wrap with interlocking Velcro straps. Some compare compression wraps to short-stretch bandages, as both are made with thick fabric that doesn't stretch much when you pull on it. However, the two products serve different purposes.
Compression wraps exist for just about every part of your body, including the calves, thighs, knees, feet, arms and hands. The wraps usually come in either a beige or a black color. Two popular compression wrap brands are CircAid and Juzo. Depending on the brand and the body part, compression wraps come in a variety of widths, lengths and sizes so users can achieve the perfect level of compression.
When to Use a Compression Wrap
Compression wraps are different from compression stockings because they are not one continuous sleeve of fabric. As a result, compression wraps are usually much easier to don and doff than compression sleeves, so patients with limited strength and/or mobility sometimes prefer wraps. Plus, compression wraps also don’t require any fancy donning and doffing devices besides your hands and possibly a tab measuring device.
While you do choose among different sizes of compression wraps based on your height and weight, the device offers a lot more opportunities for adjustment than a sleeve does, thanks to the Velcro straps. If the patient experiences a lot of fluctuations in swelling, they can tighten or loosen the wrap accordingly, which is often easier than investing in a lot of differently-sized compression sleeves and then switching them out all the time.
If you need to combine brace-like support of joints with the benefits of compression, a compression wrap allows you to do just that, while the thinner fabric of compression sleeves doesn’t provide as much support. If you need help deciding between a wrap or a stocking, our customer service department is always happy to help out.
How to Use a Compression Wrap
First, you’ll want to put on a lining to wick away sweat and act as a barrier so the thick material of the compression wrap doesn’t rub directly against your skin. This lining can go directly against your skin in the case of your upper body, or over your sock if you’re using a calf wrap.
Now it’s time to put on the actual compression part of the wrap. Usually one end is wider than the other, so be sure that the sleeve is positioned upright and that the seam is placed against the back of your limb, with the straps facing forward. Working on one strap at a time, unroll the strap, pull it to your desired level of compression and then attach the Velcro. If you have trouble feeling how much compression you should give yourself, some brands offer a tab-like compression measuring device that takes the guesswork out of it.
Adjust the straps of the compression wrap as needed to get a perfect fit. Make sure there are no bubbles or gaps in the material or anything else that might cause friction or differences in pressure. Once you are satisfied with how the wrap feels, take any excess material at the top and bottom of the lining and roll it over the edges of the wrap to get it out of the way.
When you are ready to remove the compression wrap, you’ll reverse the process. Detach each strap one at a time. You can roll the Velcro back on itself to keep it from sticking to the rest of the wrap. Remove the wrap from your arm or leg and then take off the lining underneath to complete the process.
Compression wraps are a great way for patients with limited mobility or strength to get the benefits of compression without the struggle of donning and doffing. They’re also a good option for people whose compression needs change constantly. If you’ve been having trouble with compression stockings recently, look into compression wraps instead.
Our favorite brands offer a variety of compression wraps that are easy to use and comfortable to wear. Sigvaris Comprefit, CircAid by medi Juxtafit, Jobst FarrowWrap and Juzo's compression wraps are all great alternatives to traditional compression socks and stockings.
Kaki Zell - Vice President of Sales, Marketing, eCommerce at Legs-4-Life LLC
Kaki holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She’s been working in the medical device industry over 11 years and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greensboro Science Center.
Written September 2018 | Page last updated November 2021
Sources:Sage Journals. “Reliable Self-Application of Short Stretch Leg Compression” https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0268355518793467?journalCode=phla