Lymphedema Sleeve

A comprehensive overview of lymphedema covering subjects as symptoms, diagnostics, research, causes and pictures
Lymphedema Sleeve

Lymphedema sleeve - Compression garments

     A lymphedema sleeve or a compression bandage is very important in order to ensure an external support of the skin and it can be an effective way to reduce and to control the edema. The forces created by the compression sleeves and bandages push the lymph fluid from the interstitial tissue to the lymphatic vessels and help advance the fluid more proximally. In addition, wearing a compression garment gives strength to the muscles located below, which augment the pressure of the interstitial tissue, therefore the lymph flow.

     It is very important during the processing stage to maximize the reduction of swelling and to prevent the return of the liquid between treatments. The compression garment must be worn as long as the swelling persists. A lymphedema sleeve or a compression bandage must be worn during the periods of intense activity or during an exercise program.

     To be effective, the lymphedema sleeve should fit snugly and should be replaced if it becomes worn.

Lymphedema surgery:

     In general, few surgical procedures give satisfactory results in the long term. Some even worsen lymphedema. The conventional multimode treatment must be used before resorting to surgery.

     The liposuction worsens lymphedema because the few remaining lymph vessels are removed once with the fat. Lymphedema may also occur following surgery for aesthetic liposuction! The liposuction has been used successfully in Sweden, using very small cannulas and a very sophisticated technique, but the compression lymphedema sleeves must be worn continuously after the operation.

Prevention of lymphedema

  • When traveling by plane, you should wear a compression sleeve snug. Additional bandages may be required for a long trip. Increase the fluid intake.
  • Patients with large breasts should wear light breast prostheses (heavy prostheses are putting much pressure on the lymph nodes in the neck). Wear a well fitted bra: not too tight, ideally without metal reinforcement.
  • Use a razor-electric hair remover in the armpit. Keep the razor heads clean and replace them when needed.
  • Patients must wear a compression lymphedema sleeve snug throughout the day. At least every 4-6 months, see your physiotherapist for follow up. If the handle is too large, it means that either the swollen decreased or the sleeve is worn.

     Mechanical massage devices through compression tight the affected limb in a lymphedema sleeve or in a special boot which inflates and deflates at regular intervals. The lymph may be drained from the limb quickly, but can lead to accumulation of the lymph in the trunk, causing a feeling of discomfort. Lymph may return quickly to the affected limb after using the machine. However, such lymphedema pump can help to "soak" the affected limb tissues and it can be recommended by the therapist for this effect.

Lymphedema, secondary to the surgery or radiotherapy treatment

     In patients whose cancer treatment included excision of the lymph nodes or radiation therapy the following are recommended in order to avoid or to control the lymphedema:

  • Contact your doctor promptly in case of symptoms of infection like redness of the skin, important pain or swelling of the arm, hand, leg or foot
  • Protect the skin around the trauma of surgery, even many years after surgery

     If the patient had performed a lymph node excision in the arm:

  • Ban on the harvesting of blood from the operated arm
  • Prohibit the application of a tension meter cuff at the arm affected; the information of qualified personnel about the surgery at that level
  • Wearing gloves during yard work or other activities that may cause cuts in the fingers or hands

     In the case of excision of the glands from the groin area the following are recommended:

  • The daily wash of the feet in warm water, not hot, using a mild soap, preferably one moisturizer or if not, use a moisturizing cream
  • Wear comfortable shoes of an appropriate size
  • Wearing tights and socks of suitable size; avoid wearing garters, stockings or tights tight
  • Informing the patients about how to take care of cuts, scratches, insect bites or other injuries that may occur
  • Use sunscreen and mosquito cream outdoors to avoid sunburn or insect bites
  • It is recommend consulting your doctor immediately in case of feeling of tension and swelling in the arm, hand, leg or foot, your doctor will recommend a colleague who specializes in lymphedema consultation.

     Patients with lymphedema are advised to wear a warning bracelet. These bracelets, available through the National Network of patients with lymphedema, are worn by patients who have lymphedema, to avoid their application, inadequate treatment as taking blood pressure, injection or blood collection from the affected arm, which can worsen their condition.

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