Improving Leg Health, One Step at a Time
Graduated medical compression products have become essential for people concerned about healthy blood circulation. For the past sixty years, SIGVARIS has been a leader in designing and manufacturing products for the health and well-being of customers worldwide. The company produces high-quality, medically sound products that deliver fashion, quality and comfort.
SIGVARIS North America’s parent company, the international medical device group SIGVARIS, was started in Switzerland more than one hundred and fifty years ago. The company has since become a global leader in the development and production of elasticized textiles sold to more than sixty countries around the world. SIGVARIS’ medical compression garments, including socks and hosiery, are used in compression therapy for the management of chronic venous disorders.
SIGVARIS North America employs a team of 197 employees throughout the United States and Canada. From its manufacturing facility just south of Atlanta in Peachtree City, Georgia, the company manufactures about ninety percent of the graduated compression products sold in North America.
“It’s a great time to be in the compression industry,” says Scot Dubé, president and CEO of SIGVARIS North America. “More and more people are focused on their overall well-being, and graduated compression products fit into the mix because they can help improve circulation; help people feel better; and help prevent tired, achy legs. Around the world, many individuals’ legs are in a critical condition. As a company we are committed to taking steps that change how people think about leg health with a new generation of compression garments and stockings. We are taking steps to continue to improve leg health for future generations through education, making our products available in new channels and by creating the most innovative products available in the compression hosiery market.”
Graduated compression garments, such as socks or hosiery, are designed to have the greatest pressure at the ankle and decrease in tightness going up the legs. Unlike standard socks and stockings, compression stockings are designed to help improve circulation and help prevent varicose and spider veins.
Calf muscles that surround the leg veins contract and relax while walking, aiding in moving blood back toward the heart. A graduated garment acts like an external layer of muscle to aid in this process. Its gentle pressure squeezes the veins in the leg, permitting the valves to close more effectively and assisting in circulation by creating a more normal blood flow.
As graduated compression therapy helps move blood towards the heart, it eases and prevents a number of leg conditions from fatigue, cramps and aches to swelling, discolored skin, ulcers and varicose veins.
“What many people don’t realize is that symptoms such as leg swelling, achy legs and varicose veins often indicate the early stages of chronic venous insufficiency – a condition that, if left untreated, may worsen over time,” says SIGVARIS North American Education and Medical Affairs Manager, Judith Brannan.
SIGVARIS Offers Three Product Lines
SIGVARIS sells three distinct lines of compression products to accommodate customers’ range of requirements, medical needs and lifestyles. The SIGVARIS MEDICAL, SIGVARIS WELL BEING and SIGVARIS SPORTS lines cover such varied needs such as sports, travel, venous disorders and to prevent venous troubles during pregnancy.
SIGVARIS MEDICAL products are designed to fit many different people and are available in different compression levels that correspond to the severity of the patient’s need. The company has designed its medical collection to ensure accurate fit and proper compression to optimize both therapeutic benefits and comfort. Physicians prescribe compression therapy for people who have had, or will be having, a vein procedure or for those with thrombosis, diabetes, edema, varicose veins, phlebitis or chronic venous disorders.
The SIGVARIS WELL BEING collection is used to prevent mild to moderate symptoms of leg pain. Unlike compression stockings of previous generations, the fashion-oriented line is available in a wide range of sizes, colors, opacities and styles and is visually nearly identical to regular hosiery or socks. The SIGVARIS WELL BEING collection promotes leg health while it helps provides relief from a range of common symptoms including swollen feet and ankles and sore, tired legs.
A study, published in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, followed 114 male workers with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) who worked in a standing profession. For three months, workers used either rubber anti-fatigue floor mats or class II compression stockings. “Compression stockings appeared to be superior to rubber mats with regard to applicability, diminishing subjective complaints, and decrease of diurnal leg swelling,” according to the journal. There are numerous other studies that show the medical benefits of wearing graduated compression garments.
The company’s third line, SIGVARIS Sports is popular among many high-profile athletes as well as weekend warriors and active individuals. The line is perfect for athletic activity and recovery as its true graduated compression is not available in all types of sports socks available in the market. The sports garments are frequently recommended by athletic trainers or sports physicians and athletes report fewer aches, less delayed onset muscle soreness and less tiredness after using the products.
The company also offers a wide range of accessories to complement its product lines including washing solutions designed to extend the life of the garments and devices to aid in getting compression garments on and off easily.
SIGVARIS & Travel
Sitting for long periods of time can constrain movement and restrict circulation in people’s legs. So-called “economy class syndrome” has been in the news with stories of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms causing health problems and even death among people traveling. Prolonged sitting and limited movement is a major factor in the formation of blood clots as well as painful legs and swollen feet and ankles.
Sensible precautions can be taken. Standing up, stretching and moving about periodically during air travel will help to reduce the risk. SIGVARIS’ compression hosiery and socks are also a great way to help reduce this problem as people travel in the air or on the road. An analysis of several studies has shown that graduated compression stockings, both alone and in combination with other preventive measures, can significantly reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
“SIGVARIS WELL BEING Our Well Being products have been very popular among those who stand or sit for long periods of time, those who travel for business and for those looking for a way to help prevent venous disorders, such as varicose and spider veins,” says Melissa Gwozdz, Communications Manager for SIGVARIS.
New Products & New Channels for SIGVARIS
Last fall, the company launched the Zurich Collection, a luxury line of compression socks made from natural fibers, including Sea Island cotton and Merino wool. Sea Island cotton produces unusually long and silky fibers, and Merino sheep have some of the softest and finest and wool of any sheep. The fibers were made available in SIGVARIS’ WELL BEING line last year and were introduced to its MEDICAL line this year in a stronger compression level.
In the past year, the company also began an entire compression collection exclusively for men, SIGVARIS MIDTOWN MICROFIBER.
In August 2014, the company’s new brands, INSIGNIA by SIGVARIS and BABY YOUR LEGS MATERNITY TIGHTS, became available at Nordstom.com and Destination Maternity respectively. The products were created to introduce graduated compression products to the maternity market and new retailers.
“Traditionally, our products have been sold in independent pharmacies, durable medical equipment supply stores and by online compression sock and hosiery retailers,” Gwozdz says. “We are excited about these new channels that will introduce new and first time users to the health benefits of graduated compression.”
The creation of new markets involves quite a bit of consumer education, admits Dubé. “Around one third of all men and women between eighteen and seventy-nine suffer from swelling of the legs and varicose veins. The biggest challenge we face is that so many people can benefit from wearing graduated compression, and so we have to spend a lot of time educating people about how a simple change of socks can help improve their overall well being.”
Education is Key
Product education starts from within. Not only are SIGVARIS employees trained about the features of the garments, but its dealers are as well. It is critical that compression stockings are properly sized for the wearer. The highest compression should be at the smallest part of the ankle, with gradual lessening until a seventy percent reduction of pressure is achieved just below the knee.
“Everyone who works for SIGVARIS undergoes employee training,” Gwozdz explains. “However, because we are a business to business model, we find it important to also train the dealers who carry our products. Our business plan involves becoming a partner with our dealers to improve leg health, so SIGVARIS offers our dealers the opportunity to become a certified fitter, so they can feel confident when they measure patients for SIGVARIS products and can also help them select the appropriate product based on their individual needs.”
The company expects continued growth into next year and will launch new products in 2015 in all three of its product channels.
“As our business expands into the retail arena, we expect the SIGVARIS Well Being product channel to really expand over the next five years, and we plan to keep manufacturing products for North America right here in the United States.”
With the need for graduated compression products with a proven efficacy in improving people’s leg health, SIGVARIS plans to continue to remain a leader in the market.
“We will continue to educate people about the health benefits of their products. Our goal is to continue to improve leg health, one pair of legs at a time,” Dubé says.