Lymphedema compression garments are tight elastic bandages that provide relief to patients suffering from lymhpedema and aim to reduce the swelling characteristic for this condition.
Lymphedema is a condition is which excess fluids are retained in the lymphatic system. The main causes for this condition are infections or obstructions of the lymphatic system. There are several different ways to treat this condition, and there are ways to relieve the swelling due to fluid retention. Compression garments have been proven effective and they are very popular in people who suffer from lymphedema.
How do lymphedema compression garments work?
People who suffer from lymphedema are advised by their doctors to do certain exercises that help with their condition. However, during those exercises, they should wear compression garments. This is because they suffer from fluid retention and the fluids collect and stretch the skin, so the muscle does not have solid surface to contract against. When wearing compression garments, they act like firm skin and the muscle pushes the fluids back to the lymphatic system. Without those garments, the force of the muscle will not be transferred to the lymph vessel walls and the lymph will not be pushed back.
How to use lymphedema compression garments?
Lymphedema compression garments can be on form of sleeves or stockings, made for arms and legs respectively. Both types need to be changed twice a day, because they are elastic and they tend to stretch if they are worn for 12 hours straight. Changing them allows the elastic bandages to remain tight.
This especially goes for garments worn on flexible parts, like elbows or knees, where they stretch even more. It is also recommended to wash them daily, for hygienic reasons and because washing promotes elasticity. They should not be put in dryer and should be air dried instead.
Lymphedema garments must be worn always, 24 hours a day. During the first few months, they should never be removed for more than 30 minutes. This is because the skin will stretch quickly and the accumulation of fluids will be rapid. By constantly wearing these garments, the skin and its subcutaneous layers will remodel to a smaller size and prevent edema in the future, but it takes some time, from six months to one year.
People who suffer from lymphedema should not spend a lot of time in sun and heat, because it dilutes the blood vessels, increases the blood flow all over the body, including the limbs affected by lymphedema, and increases the swelling.
Lymphedema compression garments can be very effective, but only if used properly, following the rules listed above.