Do graduated compression stockings and tights reduce cellulite and water retention on legs?

Water retention and graduated compression stockings

Graduated compression garments aid the flow of blood and lymph from the feet, calves, thighs and hips towards the heart. For this reason graduated compression stockings and tights help prevent water retention, one of the seven aspects of cellulite.

However, all compression garments insulate your fibroblasts (your collagen and elastin-producing cells) from the effects of mechanical stimulation and therefore have a negative effect on skin firmness. Skin looseness is a major aspect of cellulite and therefore compression tights may lead to looser skin if worn continuously.

In addition, all compression garments inhibit arterial flow. This is because arterial blood travels in the opposite direction of vein blood and lymph, and also against the pressure gradient of graduated compression garments. So, although graduated compression aids in lymph/vein flow, it also keeps arterial flow reduced, resulting in poor nourishment of the tissues. For all these reasons the continuous use of graduated compression socks, stockings and tights is not recommended.

It is now very well established that specific herbal extracts (such as centella / gotu kola, escin / horse chestnut and ruscus / butcher's broom) and flavonoids (such as hesperidin, rutin and quercetin) can provide equal results as compression garments, without the discomfort of wearing tight garments on your legs. These natural actives can be taken both orally (as supplements) or locally on the legs (as creams).

For the worse cases, a combination of compression garments and natural actives is recommended by most clinical studies.

 

Don’t hold your breath about cellulite reduction with graduated compression garments...

Summing up, graduated compression tights do aid in fat and fluid removal but inhibit arterial flow and discourage skin firming, thereby improving cellulite in some ways and definitely worsening it in others. So you may benefit initially, but you will have worse cellulite in the long run.

So I would say that if your cellulite is characterised by lots of water retention rather than loose skin, then these garments may be slightly helpful to you for some time. On the other hand, if you suffer from loose skin, using graduated compression tights is not advised, as they will make your skin looseness worse.